Major Swim Personalities
"In their own words"

Tell about their founding of the Ironman in 1975 along with some history of the growth of this now world-famous event born at the Waikiki Roughwater & Swim Club


Tells about the huge growth of Open Water Swimming thruout the world and how it got its start here at the Waikiki Roughwater and Swim Club.
 
The Ironman
John and Judy Collins
Founders
John and Judy Collins

The Real Story In Their Own Words
Exact Conception Revealed
     We were at the Awards ceremony for the annual Oahu Perimeter Relay of the Mid-Pacific Road Runners Club.  John and I were the captains of our respective relay teams - the Waikiki Swim Club Wahines, the Pearl Harbor Naval Ahipyard Yardbirds.  This was on a weeknight, Monday 14 February, one week after the relays.  The benefactor-sponsor of the running events in Honolulu was the Primo Brewing Company.  One benefit of Primo sponsorship was that we could hold awards ceremonies in their outdoor garden in Aiea, next to the Pearl Harbor Bicycle Path.   The "Primo Brewery" location was probably the genesis of the drunks-in -a-bar story ( which then was mixed up with the downtown bars stories mentioned in the Sports Illustrated profiles of some athletes in the 1979 Iron Man).
Waikiki Swim Club Background  
      My view of the evening is not the same as John's.  John remembers having read a Sports Illustrated article about Oxygen Uptake ( now called V02) and that the athlete who had the highest of that was Eddie Merckx, the Tour de France champion bicyclist.  John was thinking bicyclists.  I was thinking of the upcoming dual meet, the Run-Swim at Ala Moana lagoon, two weeks away.  John and I were co-chairs of that event.  At the time WSC held the trophy and it was hanging over our fireplace.  It was a life ring with a running shoe hanging in the center.
[Editor's comment: "I made that trophy! Anyone know what happened to it?" Jim Cotton]
The First Triathalon: MIssion Bay, San Diego
     John and I had taken up swimming and running in the fall of 1973  in Coronado, CA.  By the time we moved to HI in August 1975 our family had been in the first modern triathlon, the Mission Bay Triathlon, put on by the San Diego Track Club on 25 September 1974. (Their "triathlon" was  instead of their annual SDTC Run-Swim!  We had skipped swim practice to be in the event.  We were hooked.  I liked running, biking and swimming for over an hour more than doing a swim workout for an hour.). We had talked up triathlon to our (CMA) swim coach who then started the Coronado Optimist Club Triathlon in 27 July 1975 (now the longest running annual triathlon in the world).
The Scene Moves to Honolulu
     I told the USAT audience that to run and swim in Honolulu was different from the mainland.  In CA we could drive somewhere not far away to attend a rum or swim of any type on any weekend. In Honolulu the athletes were also the event organizers, the volunteers, the officials.  In a pool you swam your event, climbed put of the pool and timed the next heat.  You might shoot the starting pistol or be the referee in an event in which you were entered.  More pertinent to us was that you were expected to take charge of an event on the calendar if you were a member of the run and swim clubs.   Or you could propose a demonstration event, do the work for that and hope it would become an annual event.  We were not sprinters.  We were a runner who swam married to a swimmer who ran.  We had done some bicycling.   If we did not propose a new event soon we would end up being in charge of the Run- Swim the next year.  We thought a triathlon would make a fine dual meet.  Would runners or swimmers do better if bicycling became the aerobic fitness tie-breaker.
Oahu's Swim Run Bike Pieces Come Together
     I was in favor of using the Waikiki course for the swim, matched to a Honolulu half marathon, OR the Honolulu Marathon plus a double Rough water.  I did not know what to do about the Bike leg, was thinking about a comparable distance doing 4 mile loops at Hawaii Kai. (The Primo ultramarathons and Relays weekend was coming up soon, on that Hawaii Kai loop.)There I was, talking about what to do about a bike leg in a very long triathlon, aware that dozens in Honolulu did the Waikiki and the Marathon each year and were receptive to something new.
     John said the Round the Island Bike Ride route would enable us to connect all three courses if we lopped 3 miles or so from the bike course.  I balked at biking over 100 miles at once, after all, this was a dual meet, to me, between runners and swimmers.  John pointed out the advantage that all three legs of our proposed endurance triathlon would be off the shelf - the course, the rules, the Permits and paperwork already in place.  We would link the 3 premier endurance events on the island...we made the official announcement at the annual meeting of the WSC.  We added the name Iron Man to the logo to invoke the steady endurance pace of a shipyard runner whose pace we admire
Early Waikiki Swim Club Memories from Judy Collins
Hi Jim,
     Hello from Coronado.  I found a WRS finisher list from 1975.  3/4 0f us were on it.  Have to check it again.
     Curious to know when, how, and between which points you measured the course, which club(s) helped out, your intentions regarding its becoming an annual event.  I may have asked you that before. I am reminded ( from a recent photo search, including Fort DeRussey photos) that my initial immersion in ocean waters was at Waikiki in 1940 or 1939, when we lived on Tusitala Street a few blocks away - near the R.L. Stevenson tree.  To swim at Waikiki was to come home.
     Bruce Clark had said the Waikiki course was measured at 3.85 miles.  Our family arrived on Oahu in August 1975 at the time of the last broadcast of Hawaii Calls.  Right away John and I started a Masters swim group at Richardson Pool, Pearl Harbor, hiring the age group coach to direct us on Tu, Th, Sat.  We had a
MWF swim habit at 6 pm from Coronado CA.  The 10am Saturday session did not last long once we found out about the 9am swim at Ala Moana.   I found our swim flyer recently or I would have forgotten about that.  Soon we had cut our costs by having the whole PH swim group get certified as life guards so we could use a Shipyard pool after hours on MWF evenings.
     We all joined the WSC.  Many of us swam in pool meets, Ala Moana, ocean swims, the Maui Relays, team trips with Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. Wednesday we went for $1.50 Spaghetti night after swim practice, Saturday mornings out for breakfast after the 1k/2k swim.   More later.
Judy (and John) Collins, Coronado
World Open Water (WOW)
Steven Munatones
Founder
Steve Munatones WOW Founder
In His Own Words:

Learning the Ropes

Mega Event Management at WAIKIKI
     After I learned the ropes of event promotion, organization and safety management at the Waikiki Roughwater Swim Committee Inc. in the mid-1980s, I moved to Japan in the middle of the Japanese economic boom of the 1980s. While working with Hitachi, I also helped start the Atami Open Water Swim which has become one of the largest open water swimming events in Japan.  He also organized and conducted televised solo swims from Okinawa to Hokkaido while in Japan.

Advanced Study Area: The Pacific Basin !
     During this time, I also started to compile an international list of open water swims, focusing mostly on the Pacific Rim nations, but also extending to South America and Europe.  I  utilized my experience in the Waikiki Roughwater Swim to help race directors with safety personnel placement, communications, equipment and resource deployment, turn buoy and course layouts, and promotion.
     As I began to travel throughout the Pacific Rim, I was able to observe and participate in dozens of different races in drastically different venues, always picking up local knowledge to add to my open water tool chest.

Data Collection Goes eModern
     With the Internet boom, Munatones headed back to his native Californiawhere he continued to add to his list of open water events and contacts around the world.  During this period, he conceptualized an online source for all the data and information that he had stored in notebooks, photographs, newspaper clippings and crammed in his head.
     I also wanted to consolidate online the knowledge base that he had developed by
traveling to hundreds of races from Asia to the Americas.  This is where Openwaterpedia, the Open Water Swimming Certification Program and the Pyramid of Open Water Success were born.

Open Water Goes Global
     By 2005, the community's long-held dreams of an Olympic open water swimming event became reality.  In 2008 at the Beijing Olympic Games, Munatones was asked to become NBC's commentator for the inaugural Olympic 10K Marathon Swim where athletes like leukemia survivor and Olympic 10K gold medalist Maarten van der Weijden and amputee and Olympic 10K finalist Natalie du Toit became globally known personalities.  As he tweeted on an open water swim for the first time at the Beijing Olympics from the NBC
studios, it became an enlightenment that proved that open water swimming could eventually be reported in near real time.  By 2012, swimmers from the English Channel to the Waikiki Roughwater Swim were reporting and posting their information on social networks, further fueling the global interest in open water swimming.

182 Countries !
     With tens of thousands of open water swims held in at least 182 countries, there is no stopping global growth.  Booms in ice swimming, wild swimming and ultra-marathonswimming has paralleled the growth of triathlon that also continues to feed the sport of open water swimming.  With an overflow of global information and more races than he could possibly imagine in every possible type of water, Munatones finds himself pleased that the joy of the open water is shared by millions around the world
PAGE TOP