Hawaii Swimming Legacy


Rambling 'Round, with Andrew Mitsukado

 _____Of late you have been reading a lot about Ivanelle Hoe, the Roosevelt High School and Hawaii Swimming Club star.

_____She dominated the Interscholastic Girls swimming meet by breaking three records in the breaststroke. She set new standards in the 50 yard novice event at 33.3 seconds, the 50 yard open at 34.2 and the 100 yard novice race at 1:16.2. Ivanelle established another criterion in the AAU Indoor meet trials when she won her heat in the 100 yard junior breaststroke in 1:19.6

_____That's great swimming for a 16-year old girl and a sophomore in high school.

_____Her development has been the result of hard conscientious training. She has been swimming for three years and it was not until this year that she started going places.

_____She was one of the most unpromising swimmers ever to come under the tutelage of Soichi Sakamoto, the successful and internationally famous coach of the University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Swimming Club teams, when she first began training. She lacked coordination and struggled through the water instead of gliding through it.

 _____But as Coach Sakamoto said yesterday, she was very willing to go through rigorous training sessions and was deeply sincere in her efforts to become a competitive swimmer.

 _____"I would be strict and stern with her in trying to teach her coordination," Sakamoto said. "But she never quit trying. She would do whatever I told her to do and not once did she show any signs of becoming discouraged.

 _____"Her progress at first was so slow that at times I almost lost patience despite the fact that my greatest pleasure is to coach young swimmers just starting out. But her courage and desire to master whatever I was trying to teach her sustained me. In fact, it became a pleasure to work with her because she showed me great intestinal fortitude and a tremendous desire to learn."

_____Ivanelle is gradually mastering coordination. She first showed signs of acquiring a sense of timing last year. The confidence she has gained by her recent victories will enable her to make faster progress in picking up the finer points of swimming technique. So much so, Sakamoto said that he is pointing her for the next Olympic Games.

_____Sakamoto has more than passing interest in helping Ivanelle become a champion.

_____It was three years ago that one of his former swimming proteges on Maui wrote to him and asked him if he would teach her sister Ivanelle, to swim. That person was WAC Lt. Genevieve Hoe, who was then stationed in Japan. Sakamoto obliged. Because of the hard work he had to go through to bring Ivanelle to the fore in local swimming circles, Sakamoto looks back to her development with no little pleasure. Anyone would for a job done so well.

_____However, Sakamoto realizes there is still plenty of grueling work ahead between now and the 1956 Olympic Games.

_____Although Ivanelle is at present at her best in the breaststroke, she is beginning to swim the freestyle events.

_____We asked Sakamoto to compare Ivanelle with Evelyn Kawamoto, who was a member of the U.S. Olympic team last year, at their commensurate period of development.

_____"Kawamoto had better coordination and was steadier, but Ivanelle has shown that she is a better sprinter," Sakamoto answered. "Kawamoto had a lot of fight, Ivanelle also has shown that she is a fighter."

_____Sakamoto, who has developed such champions as Keo Nakama, Halo Hirose, Bill Smith, besides Kawamoto and Bill Woolsey, the current Hawaii Swimming Club standard-bearer and Olympic Games swimmer, has other youngsters under his wings right now who display a lot of promise.

_____They are George Onekea, Barbara Stevenson, and 12 year old Lynn Williams.

_____Lynn is a backstroke swimmer and is coming along well. Barbara is a freestyle swimmer and she is a terrific prospect.

_____George, 14 - year old son of George Onekea, Sr., well known in local golf circles,is the best young swimming prospect Sakamoto has ever had in his long career as a coach.

_____Young George has excellent coordination and already is a picture swimmer. Even Bill Smith, who won world renown as Olympic Champion in 1948 at London and who was for some time the best middle distance freestyle swimmer in the world, marvels at the beautiful strokes of the youngster.

_____"If George will train hard and follow the instructions of Coach Sakamoto, he will be a champion some day." Smith commented the other night.

_____Only a youngster, George still does not have enough strength to swim in the championship category. But he will eventually as he grows older and picks up power.

_____His parents have been of great help to Sakamoto in encouraging and advising George to train conscientiously. They have again and again told the youngster that he must train and follow the instruction and orders of his coach. Otherwise, they have impressed on him that he should get out of the pool, for then he would be wasting the time and effort of his coach and himself.

_____But there is little chance of George not minding Coach Sakamoto, for he loves to swim.