The Waikiki Roughwater Swim History

Rabbit Island Swim and Picnic and Tennis
Hostessed by gracious founding member,
Eve Anderson
(Picture below taken on her beach-side lawn)
Hilton Penthouse After-Swim Party/Blast
        This luxury lasted for several years thanks to the Hilton. Word
of the whole weekend of blue water serious swimming mixed with this sort of celebration each day helped boost awareness of the Swim throughout the US and foriegn swim world helping to shoot up the participation quickly.
       Many alive today, still remember the first big party in 1972 when Harry Huffaker, the first man to swim the Molokai Channel, unaided, showed up back down on the beach at sunset with balconies loaded with on-looking and cheering swimmers as Harry and friend swam 2.4 miles back to the start !
       Ocean swimming was the Thing.
Early Celebrities Help Get Swim Awareness
     Give Radio, TV and Print Interviews and Host Award Ceremonies
Whose Beach?
       Also, in the beginning, Hilton considered the beach in front of their hotel as “their” beach. That beach was much smaller than the expansive beach that exists today. This beach has since been officially named “Duke Kahanamoku Beach”. Originally, each morning, the hotel staff would set out beach chairs in neat rows right up to the edge of the dry sand. When the 36 of us got to that “far distant shore” from San Souci Beach we had to huddle forlornly at water’s edge while the tourists in their beach chairs looked at us with curiosity and astonishment: who were the three dozen swimmers arriving from the sea and crowding into their beachfront?

Origins
       This Waikiki Swim, including the term “Roughwater”, was based on the original, pre-WWII La Jolla Roughwater Swim that had been swum, off and on, since 1916 in California and as remembered by Cotton who lived up the stairs above the La Jolla Cove. This original swim was swum across the La Jolla Bay from Scripps Pier to the then “far distant” La Jolla Cove 1.7 miles away.
       This swim was converted in 1947 to a triangular course off the Cove with both the start and finish at the Cove and eventually to a large number of individual age and gender group races all starting and finishing at the Cove. In recent years, unfortunately, much of the beach has been washed away as with other Southern Calif shore lines. The La Jolla swim in recent years has gone commercial with the Gatoraid 3-mile Gatorman swim limited to elites swimming at least 3 mph around bouys starting and finishing at the Cove.
          The very popular La Jolla swim is now the opposite age-group style of swim relative to the Waikiki Roughwater Swim.


Our Swim's Long-Range "Constitution" 1970 to Now!

     1) keep the classic and dramatic crossing to that "far distant shore" and not “round the bouys”

     2) to have a community swim that is fully welcoming to ALL swimmers from recreational to world class.

     3) to have ONE, BIG dramatic race, with no elite restrictions and welcome every one who thinks they can swim the distance.

       4) Have a ONE BIG, well-hosted quality awards ceremony in a pleasant beachside venue.


“Crossing to that far distant shore”
exists at Waikiki Bay which is actually a deeply indented, curvatious inlet.


Course Selection
       The founder had been surfing the Waikiki south swell for 7 summers before the WRS. He knew that every so often when the summer south swell from southern hemisphere storms was strong, there could be crashing white water well out to sea. For this reason and for the Philosophical Reasons above the main middle leg of the swim was pushed way out into the ocean.  
       The Start and Finish locations were nearly a non-decision. There existed at both ends of Waikiki Beach proper deep water, bouyed channels. So during big surf these channels remained swimable and became the start and finish legs.
       The icing on the cake was that the start and finish sites were loaded with beach-side space and facilities. At the Start was Kapiolani Park, the Outrigger Canoe Club, the Natatorium with it rest rooms, Otani Hotel & Hau Tree Restaurant, San Souci beach with its shower and morning shade and sweeping views of the sea and coast.
     .

Negotiations with Outrigger, Hilton and AAU In 1971
        It was decided to do a proper swim and the Swim date was moved to Labor Day as no major event “owned” that day and the date made a great 3-day weekend finale to a swim summer for young and old alike.

Outrigger Joins First   
       Ramping up the operation was now in order. The Swim could no longer be a one-man affair. First to be approached was the Outrigger Canoe Club because of their fundamental dedication to ocean sport and access ever since 1908 when    Alexander Hume Ford promised this to the Queen Emma estate in their charter.
          The OCC responded immediately and whole-heartedly with funds for the unusual and sparkling silver bowl trophies, canoes for lifeguarding and personnel to paddle them. Key in these decisions for the Club were Cline Mann, president, Peter Balding and Karl Heyer III club captains.

Hurdles Emerge, AAU & John Kelley Jr
Jim Cotton

1970 - 1975 HISTORY

The Pioneering Era
In the Beginning
       In the late 1960's, there were no roughwater swims or high-profile running or biking events in Hawaii, the Exercise Revolution had not yet begun. The first Waikiki Roughwater Swim was swum on October 11th 1970 and was initiated by Jim Cotton. The Swim’s first-to-finish in this first Swim was officially Mark Finley, but at this early informal event, with no real chute, most felt it was an unofficial tie with 36-year old Olympian Bill Woolsey sharing the first-to-finish honors as he touched sand first but had to run down to the finish line. Other swimmers in the 1st Annual, soon to be locally notable, were Marge Phillips, Peter Cole, Ian Emberson and Jim Welch
     Bill Woolsey                                     Peter Cole ,  2 unidentified ,  Mark Finley
John B. Kelly, Jr 4 times Olympian, Son of John B Kelly 3 times Olympian
His sister, Princess Grace Kelly, Oscar winner, had nothing to do with our Swim!
Mrs. Nadine Kahanamoku Presents Ford Perpetual Trophy
Buster Crabbe winner of Olympic Gold & Bronze Medals; Tarzan in movies and  Punahou Swim Team captain along with a young teammate & long-time WSC member, Lloyd Osborne
Swim Program Expands in Early 70's
     The Swim Founder makes a publicity trip to mainland distributing flyers to many swim centers. The San Francisco Olympic and South End Rowing Clubs show major interest and invite us to join them in swimming in the SF Bay. A shocking experience but it leads to the SF Contingent being one of the main boosters of the Swim. These Clubs eventually send hundreds of swimmers to Maui and Waikiki swims and help put these events on the world map.
And the Years Rolled On Down to the Present Day Wonder of it All!
It seemed easy to put on then, but as the years went by the group aged, catching timely inter-island flights was difficult and the long course meet was dropped. Eventually, the Maui swimmers running the Maui Channel learned that a lot of the mainland Maui Channel swimmers would really like to just hang out in Maui so they started their own open water swim and eventually moved it to Labor Day.
Late-Breaking news is that some of the Maui Swimmers are migrating to Waikiki, 2013.
Off Lainai Start Beach                Bob Roper SF Bay Legend           Trudy Swimming Mid-Ocean
        Trudy                          OoooLaLa                             Rosemary
       Early on,  problems came into view that threatened the Swim before it really got up and running. The AAU, at that time the main amateur ruling body, had a rule that men and women could not swim in the same competitive event.
       The CEO of the AAU was none other than an athletically famous, powerful but courteous, John B. Kelley Jr, 4 times Olympic rower w/medals, later chairman of the US Olympic Committee, son of an Olympic gold medalist, John Kelley Sr and brother of Princess Grace Kelley.
       After much pushing and pulling via the mails, the AAU changed its policy to the current happy arrangement. AAU later replaced by more modern swim authorities.
    
Harry Huffaker
Channel Swimming Pioneer
The Maui Channel Swim is Born
       Then in the basement pool of the SF Olympic Club, SF swim legend, Bob Roper,  proposes what is thought at the time,before WOWSA, to be the first inter-island swim race to the visiting founder or our swim. Cotton is grabs the idea and dashes back to the islands to do the start-u leg work.
      Jim Caldwell writes to advise he was very involved in the early years of the "leg work" set-up phase also. Corrections and additions welcome.
Hilton Rainbow Tower
Later Day Roper Romping across the Maui Channel with one of his many CoEd Mixed Makule teams:


Hilton Hawaiian Village Weighs In
        The founder, having done some light weight title research with the City agencies, believed that, although the beach boundaries had changed physically many times due to dredging, tide action and sand transplant, access to the beach from the ocean was not barred by land ownership issues. So he went ahead with the 2nd Annual WRS.
        About 100 swimmers entered the Swim in 1971 and as they acccumulated on the beach, the Hilton's loud speaker system keep up stentorian announcements: "Jim Cotton report to the Manager's Office". He elected not to.

The Waikiki Swim Club is Born
       Cotton, being delighted to have 100 entrants in the 2nd Annual running of the Swim, conceives the idea of swimming each Saturday at Ala Moana Beach in order to bring together the adult swimming community and to foster swim training all-year long for "Fun, Sport and Health".
       A secondary motive was to create a cadre of ocean swimming enthusiasts to help put on The Swim each year. From the addresses on the 2nd annual WRS entry form, invitations were sent out. Many long-term swimming friendships and even marriages were part of the pleasing results.

Ala Moana Beach Club Swims Every Sat, Rain or Shine,    
       A swimming course, 1 kilometer long was measured out and bouyed, at Ala Moana Beach.  For many years, an unusual case of friendly "1K and 2K" timed swims were run. This was a truly Friendly group swim since all levels of swimmers happily participated, competing with their own times or of their peers. Kay Ney faithfully did the timing for many years followed eventually by Margie Welch.
       In recent years what was our nearly-private "1k long swimming pool" became more popular with stand up paddlers on boards. In addition, this and occassional pollution scares reduced swimmer attendance. Still today, some of the "originals" still swim there and enjoy the good showers, parking and changing rooms.  

Waikiki Swim Club Swims Expand
       In the early 70's the Club's entusiasm for new swims seemed unlimited. In addition to ocean swims, Bill Smith, the Olympic Gold Medalist, then Honolulu Parks Official, advises Cotton of the new Masters Swim national program. So the Club suddenly added pool to their pallette. How we could run so many activities is hard to imagine now. A brief outline will give an idea:
Pool Swimming
     Local Short and Long Course Master Meets at Manoa & UH
     National Meets at San Mateo and Santa Monica
Magic Island Biatalon
Rabbit Island Swim
Maui Channel Swim
For example Unforgettable Events Such As:

Natalie Naugle Mahoney, Pioneer & Founding Member & Main Organizer





Kay Ney, Founding
Member & Loyal Long-Time Timer




Eve Anderson,
Founding Member, Rabbit Island Swim Hostess and Early Strong Swimmer
     Without these Ladies' Key Early Contributions,
There Might Not Now Be A RoughWater Swim
or Waikiki Swim Club.
Circa 1972
Key Pioneers of Club & RWSwim
San Franciscans  Sweep First 3-Day Whopper Weekend
       The enthusiasm quickly ratcheted up to having three major swims
                  on the one 3-day Labor Day Weekend:
         Saturday, Maui Channel Swim, Lanai to Lahaina, Maui
          Sunday,   Long Course Pool Meet, Manoa UH Pool
          Monday,  Labor Day, Waikiki Roughwater Swim

Bob Roper accepting the "Duke Bowl" from the bowl's namesake's widow, Mrs Duke Kahanamoku at the Roughwater Grass Shack Awards Ceremony in the center Beach at the Hilton. The Duke Bowl was an early award for winning all three events with the various teams he brought to the Islands.
So Good Luck to All, and Remember:
Lifetime Vigorous Swimming for Fun, Sport and Health