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?
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.
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