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2016 WOWSA AWARD WINNERS
2016 WOWSA Man of the Year – Nejib Belhedi
2016 WOWSA Woman of the Year – Jaimie Monahan
2016 WOWSA Performance of the Year – Sarah Thomas’ Lake Powell Swim
2016 WOWSA Offering of the Year – Samsung Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim
Friday, March 20, 2015
Waikiki Natatorium Fits The Bill
Bill Smith [shown on left] was one of Hawaii's greatest pool and open water swimmers. One of the inaugural inductees in the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame in 2002, his career began when he placed second in a 1-mile swim at the American national championships in California at the age of 16.
After returning home to Hawaii, he moved to Maui to train with the legendary Soichi Sakamoto where the training regimen included swimming against the currents in Maui's irrigation ditches and later at the Waikiki Natatorium on Oahu.
Smith attended Ohio State University for a year before joining the Navy. After World War II ended, he returned to Ohio State to complete his degree and return to swimming. He won a total of 36 individual and relay titles in the Amateur Athletic Union, Big Ten and NCAA championships. He set American records at 18 different distances and was generally considered one of the world's outstanding swimmer from 1941 to 1949 when he set 7 world records and 12 national records and won 2 gold medals at the 1948 London Olympic Games in the 400m freestyle and the 800m freestyle relay.
At one time, Smith held all of the world records in freestyle swimming events between the 200-meter and 1,000-meter distances.
John Weiser, a Stanford graduate and Molokai resident, recalls those times training in Hawaii as told to Bob Sigall* of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "I craved to train and swim with the best in the world at that time. Nothing else mattered. So when I learned that there was this guy named Soichi Sakamoto, who attracted swimmers from all over the globe to train at a 100-meter pool in Hawaii at the foot of Diamond Head, it was a calling I could not resist. Only swimming with Sakamoto mattered.
For $160, I arrived as a second-class passenger on the cruise ship Matsonia together with my Volkswagen and surfboard. Thank God school was over. Now I could swim at the Natatorium with the best swimmers and the best coach, Soichi Sakamoto.
As you passed the entrance gate, on the left was the headquarters of the city and county lifeguards, run by Bill Smith. He was in charge of all the lifeguards on Oahu."
The Waikiki Natatorium was a special place to train.
Weiser continues, "With open circulation to the ocean, the Natatorium was home to its own population of fish. Frequently as swimmers would dive in, schools of small fish would leap out of the water ahead of them. And there were a few barracuda of 2 feet or more in length who would shadow swimmers using kick boards, drafting their wake back and forth.
In the 1950s the Waikiki Natatorium was the crown jewel of venues for international swimming competitions."
America's modern system of training fast swimmers has its roots deeply embedded with Sochi Sakamoto at the Waikiki Natatorium. What he did at there completely changed the landscape of international swimming and my life."
*Bob Sigall is author of the Companies We Keep books.
Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.
WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
The Other Shore
The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.
This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.
But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.
In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...
Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.