HONOLULU — The late U.S. Rep. K. Mark Takai was a four-time high school swimming state champion, a two-time National High School All-American in the 100-yard breaststroke. Takai was also a 1985 inductee into the prestigious Hawaii High School Hall of Honor.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association will officially name its swimming and diving state championships after Takai Friday during a dedication ceremony before trials of the state swim meet at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
“Mark is a perfect example of what the HHSAA hopes its student-athletes go on to achieve through lessons learned in education-based athletics,” said HHSAA Executive Director Chris Chun. “When I first took this job, Mark made time to personally reach out and mentor me. He always made time for the HHSAA even as his leadership roles and time demands increased. I am forever indebted to Mark for his graciousness and genuine care for Hawaii high school athletics.”
Takai was also the student body president at Pearl City High School and editor-in-chief for the school’s newspaper.
He continued his career as a student-athlete at the University of Hawaii, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public health. During his career at the university, he competed on the Rainbows’ swimming and diving team while serving as editor-in-chief of Ka Leo O Hawaii, the student-based university newspaper, and was president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii.
The dedication ceremonies are set to start at 2 p.m. followed by the trials for the 2017 K. Mark Takai Hawaii High School Athletic Association swimming and diving Hawaii state championships beginning at 2:30 p.m. at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex.
Takai was elected to the Hawaii State House of Representatives in 1994, serving the Pearl City and Aiea communities for 20 years. During that time, Takai served in the Hawaii Army National Guard for more than 15 years, including a one-year deployment to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He earned the rank of lieutenant colonel and was president of the Hawaii National Guard Association.
“Honoring Mark in this way will help to keep his name, spirit and legacy alive in those of us who worked alongside him and got to know him as a friend, as well as those who admired him from afar,” said HHSAA dedication committee member Wes Nakama. “It will also help future student-athletes learn about and appreciate Mark’s many great achievements and contributions as a scholar-athlete and campus/community leader.”
Takai was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and established himself as a well-respected congressman. Despite being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, Takai continued to serve until his passing on July 20, 2016, at the age of 49.