A decade of fun in the sun

The inaugural Namolokama O’Hanelei Swim Challenge hosted 60 swimmers about a decade ago. More recently, the annual North Shore swimming competition has garnered hundreds of entrants each year.

“My husband (Dick) brought the idea to the canoe club 10 years ago, maybe 10-and-a-half years ago. He’s a triathlete,” said event committee member Barbara Smith. “We have a beautiful bay. We thought for safety and fun, and for kids and adults, is to have part of a triathlon and do a swim.”

The 10th Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge is set for July 30 at the Hanalei Pier, hosted by Namolokama O’Hanelei Canoe Club.

“It really is a fun event that focuses on family. Last year, we had three generations of families competing in it — from the kids to their parents and grandparents,” said event volunteer Pam Murphy. “Large families come from all over the island. It’s one of the things we enjoy the most.”

The open water swim contest has five main races — the keiki 8-and-under, the keiki 9-12, the 1,000-meter, the 3,000-meter, and a new addition, 1,000-meter with snorkels, fins and mask.

“We added the division, the 1,000-meter division with snorkels, masks and fins, for people who really want to participate but aren’t able to necessarily participate in the other events,” Murphy said.

Murphy added: “In those 1,000 and 3,000 (races), there’s several categories where people can win. People will win ribbons if they win their age group.”

The Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge also serves as the signature fundraiser for Namolokama.

In addition to fundraising for the club, a portion of the proceeds will be given to Hale Halawai ‘Ohana O Hanalei, also known as the Hanalei Community Center.

Also added this year is a silent auction featuring prizes that include a four-day vacation package for four people at Mammoth Mountain in California valued at $3,700, OluKai footwear and gift certificates to Kilauea Bakery and Bikini Room.

The auction begins 7 a.m. the day of the races and closes before award presentations. Murphy added for those who wish to participate in the auction but cannot attend, email her at pamedgehill@me.com to be included in the bidding.

Early registration to enter ends on July 15. Forms are available at Hanalei Surf, the YMCA in Lihue or online at hanaleibayswimchallenge.com.

Early registration fees are $10 for children and $40 for adults. After the 15th, fees are $15 for kids and $50 for adults.

Swimmers can sign up from now up until the day of the races. Registration the morning of begins 7 a.m. The day’s first race is scheduled for 9 a.m.

“I’ve never heard of anybody coming down and being disappointed,” Smith said. “Either doing the event or watching the event, it’s exciting. You stand on the pier and you cheer the kids on. It’s just cool.”

In 2014, the Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge was recognized as one of the America’s Top 100 Open Water Swims by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

“It was quite a surprise to us, quite frankly, a few years back,” Murphy said. “It was really exciting. They talked about just the beauty of Hanalei Bay. It’s rare in the world to find that kind of atmosphere, that great of a bay. That was one of the things that they talked about.”

Information: Murphy, pamedgehill@me.com, 212-1721.

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