The Broad Shouldered Heros
    Here we give due credit to those rare "heroes" who stepped forward and volunteered for the full planning and operational responsibility of running and improving this now great swim and serving for years and years.
Hundreds Worked
     Many others helped, some hugely, and we hope to mention them all. We welcome additions of others of the many "load carriers" so deserving of recognition
The Now  Era:
since 2020
The Anniversary Era:
2010 - 2019
The Efficient & Challenging Era:
1996 - 2009
Stefan Reinke
Kaia Hedlund
Ted Sheppard
The Creative Era:
1988 to 1995
The Middle Era:
1986 - 1987
The Middle Era: 1985
Jim Anderson
Steve Munatones
Steve Bobko
The Middle Era:
1983 - 1984
The Special Year 1979
The Growth Era:
1976 - 1982
The Pioneering Era:
1970 - 1975
Gen Iinuma
Bruce Clark
Fred Trask
Jim Cotton
Tough Job
    This job is serious because there are many legal, insurance and bureaucratic powers to be dealt with in the permittiing and operational process. Also, great numbers of volunteers, a few paid hands and Nautilus, God of the Seas controling the currents, and creatures of the deeps...all must be engaged and mollified before the gun goes off on Labor Day morning at 9:AM, year after year.
Trask - Anderson - Sheppard: Served Major Tours at the Controls 
The Pure Swim
    The Swim has been blessed by a succession of conscientous and talented leaders who built upon their predecessor's work and kept on adding improvements while avoiding the temptation to sell out to commercial interests
as have many swimming and other sporting events.
     The result is now a non-profit, community-wide, just-for-the-joy-of-ocean- swimming event not besmirched by title identity such as Gatorman or Budweiser Swim or big money prizes such as have others have done or entertained.
Long-Haul Tours of Leadership 
   Foremost in this regard would be Fred Trask, Jim Anderson and Ted Sheppard who served long tenures of 6, 8 and 15 years respectively...silent mega-gifts to the swimming world.
Enter Kaia Hedlund...Excellence to the Rescue
    In late 2009, Ted Shephard retired, as planned, after 15 years of superb management of the Swim. By extreme good luck, Kaia Hedlund came to the rescue and took over the Directorship of the Swim.
National Class Swim Leader   
     More luck, Kaia had extensive experience with the Roughwater Swim, have swum in it many times over the years, (winning her age group one year), and more importantly having served on the RW Committee for many years as secretary (aka up to her neck in permit and our own special kind of massive paper work) and even more good luck Kaia had escalated her career into major swim management on the Mainland such as National swim meets of many kinds....WOWEE...
Purity Saved for Future Generations
    How lucky could this humble, non-commercial swim be? Nautilus and his co-gods swimming in the air up above the Natatorium smiled on this swim and rewarded it for being so PURE and CLASSIC.
Bottom Line
     If you see Kaia, (a good looking tall blonde in dark glasses & "Director" tee shirt) or any of the other past directors, please say:
Stefan Reinke
The New Era
2020 - ???
WRS Swim Director Kaia Hedlund
New Era - TBD
Kaia Hedlund
The Anniversary Era History
2010 - 2019
WRS Swim Director Kaia Hedlund
Ted Retires
     In April 2009, Ted Sheppard informed the Board that he would retire after the 40th Swim and his 60th birthday that year. The WRS Committee then elected Kaia to be President and Race Director for the 2010 season. Ted was able to provide Kaia with all the many managerial parameters right up to the end of his term in Dec 2009.
Kaia Hedlund Elected   
     More luck and good fortune, Kaia had extensive experience with the Roughwater Swim, having  swum in it many times over the years, (winning her age group one year). More importantly having served on the RW Committee for many years as secretary (aka up to her neck in permit and our own special kind of massive paper work). Even more good luck Kaia had escalated her career into major swim management on the Mainland such as National meets of many kinds....WOWEE...
Lady Luck Smiles on Us
     How lucky could this now-iconic, non-commercial swim be? Nautilus and his co-gods swimming in the air up above the Natatorium smiled on this swim and rewarded it for being so PURE and CLASSIC.
Still organizing the 50th Annivesary Swim 2019!    
In Her Own Words:
      Kaia will now say a few words about her tenure, her helpers and improvements and the current state of affairs: "It is too soon to croon...wait till I am history" OK Kaia, if you insist !
Our Good Looking Hard-Working Tall Blond
CEO-Type Executive Director
Ted Sheppard
1996 – 2009 HISTORY
The Challenging & Efficient Era
WRS Swim Director Ted Sheppard
Ted's Swim Career Quilt:
Swim Quilt
Ted Sheppard's Record Leadership Service
     Ted Sheppard, Waikiki Swim Club member and A-Wave swimmer and member of the WRS Committee took over the job in 1996 which was, by now, actually called President as well Race Director. He set the record by nearly double for years of service: Fifteen long years, carrying on through good times and difficult times. A real solid leader who fine-tuned the operation continually.
     Ted Sheppard was Race Director during the years when Nautilus, God of the Sea, threw some challenging currents at the swimmers and when a Maui group decided to have their swim on Labor Day also.
     None the less, under Teds reign, the Swim became superbly organized and run like a Swiss watch with multiple added features so that the Swim could justly be called the classic Jewel of the Pacific and more recently, the Jewel of the World based on reputation. He kept to the Swim's nearly sacred and nearly unique traditions of one big, low-cost, all-welcome, one-race, dramatic community swim. Here is Ted's Era in his own words
In Ted's Own Words
     "Aloha! As President, Waikiki Roughwater Swim Committee, Inc. and race director, I was very fortunate to have a professional team to support the swim. Jim Anderson prepared me to assume the leadership from a long list of capable and generous previous Presidents.
     The following observations highlight some of my memories as I reflect on the past. My first year as race director gave me many restless nights as race day approached.The burden and responsibility for the safety of the swimmers and volunteers weighed heavily in my thoughts as Labor Day drew near. The WRS team confidant can do attitude, along with preparation and professionalism provided me the assurance that we were ready. That team spirit continues today.
     During my 15 years as race director the race evolved constantly to give the swimmers, sponsors, volunteers and spectators a better experience.The ocean on Labor Day cooperated every year except in 2003 and 2005.The key team members were ready and performed superbly every year.
     The race web site was further developed and expanded to provide better information, colorful pictures of beautiful Waikiki and race memories.We transitioned from paper mail entries to a fully automated on-line registration process using new process increased our marketing capability, expanded our reach in the sporting communities, reduced our costs, allowed us to keep entry fees low and created an email link to all swimmers. Several national magazines including Outside, Sunset, USMS Magazine and United and Hawaiian Airlines in-flight magazines have promoted the race. Hawaii Tourist Authority links our web site under ocean activities. The social network sites will increase WRS exposure.
Ernie Lescovitz
     The Waikiki Roughwater Swim Committee, Inc. is a non-profit Hawaii Corporation formed to conduct the annual swim. WRS has no paid employees. Many individuals gave their time and expertise to the team. Ernie Leskovitz served as Vice President and Board member for many years. A nationally ranked age group swimmer, Ernie’s social network throughout the swimming community bridged new associations to mainland swimmers.
Blake, Rudolph, Anderson and Kaiser
     Dennis Blake, Steve Rudolph, Jim Anderson and Linda Kaiser each served as treasurer keeping our fiduciary records in balance. George Kane, our starting line director, continues to manage the anxious swimmers with cool professionalism.
Hedlund, Lilekis, presley, Hetzel, Anderson
     Our June, July and August swim clinics for preparing swimmers to compete in the swim were staffed year in and year out by Kaia Hedlund, Joe Lileikis, Todd Presley, Rick Hetzel and Jim Anderson. The Committee’s officers and board members gave graciously their time and deserve the true recognition and credit for the success of the swim.
Supproting Institutions
     Our outreach with the General Managers and staff at the Outrigger Canoe Club and New Otani Hotel (starting line), the Hilton Hawaiian Village complex and Hale Koa Hotel (finish line) cemented the goodwill and long term commitments the committee has nurtured over 40 years.Other sponsors who provided us invaluable contributions included TYR, Speedo, Blue Seventy, Power Bar, Cliff Bar, Bull Frog, McDonalds, Bump Networks, Nike and Hawaiian Airlines. Frank Smith from Island Triathlon Bike provided us a permanent distribution store in the past for pick ups of awards, shirts and applications.
Beaumont, Foster, Rust
     Jim Beaumont at PrintProz our tee shirt supplier has given us years of great product. Steve Foster’s Time Line Company brought advance timing, real time results, and web site links for other events, improved swim course markers and buoys. Kenny Rust and his Pro Saving company staffed with professional lifeguards joined out team to improve the quality of our water safety capabilities and increment the 80 to 100 volunteers on surfboards, paddle boards, canoes and kayaks. Most importantly the support teams and sponsors created a safe umbrella for the swim.
     Over the years we were fortunate to have the great voices and personalities of Lord Blair, Mickey Campagnolo, Steve Borrowski and our current announcer Joe Teipel. Their enthusiasm and knowledge created a fun atmosphere, excitement and great entertainment for swimmers, volunteers and spectators. . Recently we established a long term relationship with the Sydney Australia swims Big Swim, Cole Classic and Bondi Swim. Many of the winning swimmers earned spots at WRS after winning those swims.
Rainbow Aquatics
     The Rainbow Aquatic age group swim team has provided the beach volunteers for years. The parents and kids make race day an effortless experience for the swimmers at check in and at the finish line. Staring very early on race day, they gather and produce the infrastructure necessary to run the swim.The money collected from our tee shirt sales is donated by the Committee to Rainbow in support of age group swimming. The Committee has donated over the years $100,000 in support of age group swimming.
Anderson, Trask, Cotton
     The swim created and advanced by Jim Cotton, Fred Task and Jim Anderson has evolved from local swimmers out for a Labor Day fun swim into a competitive and challenging business enterprise.
     Oversight for water safety and legal regulations requires expensive insurance, comprehensive water safety plans, equipment and tents, set up and clean up crews, off shore water safety and course management, transportation, food and drink and patience. The permits from the City and County of Honolulu, the Department of Natural Land Resources, State of Hawaii, and the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard require close coordination and detailed planning. Our relationship with these agencies is based on trust, cooperation and personal contact, all essential for the future of the swim.
Daughter Taylor
     The years passed quickly and gave me many happy memories and new and continuing friendships. The opportunity to swim the race several times with my daughter Taylor was a thrill I will always cherish.
Kaiser, Hofwold, Blake
    I owe special thanks and recognition to Linda Kaiser, Jerry Hofwolt and Dennis Blake. They were always ready to assist on short notice without question. The races were a successful event due to their dedication and behind the scenes activities.I thank them deeply for their support.
Mahalo. TED"
Jim Anderson
1988 – 1995 HISTORY
The Creative Era
WRS Swim Director Jim Anderson
Middle Era Ends
       In fairness to the late Fred Trask, one has to remember, Fred was in the wings and doing the very difficult job of replacing Swim Directors after each of them had to leave the helm .    
A Crisis of Command
        In 1987 Fred Trask recruits and replacements have come and gone. Who will run the Show? Fred may have recruited the next long-term Director: James K. Anderson
       Jim, a long distance swimmer, founder of the Double Roughwater, key member of Waikiki Swim Club, steps forward and settles in for 8 years of creative management.
Maximum Swim Achieved
     During Jim's tenure, in one of his yearly swims, some 1350 swimmers hit the water in one big beautiful swim.
New Swim Tech Age Begins   
     Jim initiates multiple initiatives in timing, insurance, incorporation, permitting and on and on...truly pioneering the modern age of major open water swimming. Terri Frank produced the first swim website during this period...followed by Mike Coyle for maintenance and improvements.
     Jim is very humble about himself, a true hero. If anyone including your good self, Jim, has info on this period...did you work, did you help, etc, etc please contact the Editor of this History: Jim 707 539 1894,         We want to give credit those good souls who worked so hard.
Staged Starts Perfected
     As swim entries approached 1000, various staged starts were tried. Finally having "waves" of a few hundred similar swimmers per each start group, separated by 5 minutes proved to be the best solution. This added to the flavor of the event as a "Community Swim". No more restrictions and confusion related to age groups/masters and gender. Just the safety and competitive enhancement of similar-speed swimmers swimming together.
At last, we learn of Jim's accomplishments
Thanks to the Honolulu StarAdvertizer
Jim Anderson
Rick Heltzel      Jim Anderson       Linda Kaiser
Jim Anderson,  Hall of Famer & Founder of
"Possibly Annual Hawaiian Christmas Looong Distance Invitational Rough-H20 Swim"
aka The Double Roughwater Swim
shown here flanked by two of the many Hawaiian swim stars who enter his demanding swim
In the words of the Press:
The optimum word is "possibly"
The Swim Title
It captures the capricious spirit of the possibly annual Hawaiian Christmas Looong Distance Invitational Rough-H20 Swim, an adventure intended to be taken seriously for serious fun.
This Year's Swim
Sunday's 4.33-mile (7-kilometer) race is scheduled to be held for the 32nd time in 33 years. The probability is close to 100 percent that the 42 entered swimmers will get the go-ahead to go from San Souci Beach to the outer Ala Wai Harbor channel buoy and return. For sure? The unpredictability of that matches the unpredictability of the conditions. It's Mother's Nature's playtime, where the water can change in a matter of strokes.
The Allure.
"You just never know what's going to happen that day," said Hawaii's Linda Kaiser, acknowledged as one of the pioneers of ocean swimming and one of two people to swim all nine of Hawaii's major channels. "One time, it took four hours to go down and a half-hour to come back.
In Case You Missed It, This Is:
32nd Possibly Annual Hawaiian Christmas Looong Distance Invitational Rough-H20 Swim
>> 8 a.m. Sunday, San Souci Beach to Ala Wai Harbor buoy and back n 4.33 miles (7 kilometers)
>> Entries closed
Ocean Swimmer Minds:
"Sometimes you're halfway back to the finish and you're asking yourself, 'Why am I doing this?' Then after a couple of months, you start planning to do it again."
Only the Chosen
There is a mystique equated with a journey to Oz to see the wizard, according to Rick Heltzel, who has won the event a record 12 times. The entry process is a bit different with applicants needing to be approved by race founder and director Jim Anderson before receiving an invitation to compete. "The first time I came here was in 1983 and I wanted to do this swim," said Heltzel, a standout swimmer at Stanford. "Jim didn't know who I was. I had one day to turn in my entry and I hand-carried it to his house. It was like going to see the Wizard of Oz. I kept thinking, 'I hope I get accepted.' "I was pretty excited when I got my invitation."
Mr Roughwater:
Heltzel, another recognized pioneer in the sport, finished fourth overall in his first outing. He won his first in 1985 and his 12th in 2011, claiming his age group title every year when he wasn't the overall champion. His record in 1989 (1 hour, 26 minutes, 55 seconds) was reset a year later by world open water champion Greg Slippert of Canada (1:24:44). Heltzel's 1989 time remains second-best all-time. Anderson has only canceled the race once (in 2007 due to his health issues).
One Rejection:
He also has only denied one application: Mickey Campaniello. "If I had known who he was other than he was a runner, I would have let him swim," Anderson said of the well-known Hawaii marathon runner. "He was super fit and it wouldn't have been a problem for him. We all have a good time still talking about that."
Safety Rules Supreme:
However safety is primary for Anderson. Swimmers have to provide a resume of sorts, showing they are capable of the distance, known as the Double Waikiki Roughwater Swim. Swimmers also are required to provide an escort on a non-motorized water craft such as a kayak or surfboard. The escorts must themselves be in excellent condition with strong water knowledge; they are allowed to carry nourishment for the swimmers.
Unsung Heroes:
"The escorts are the unsung heroes," Heltzel said. "This swim is absolutely my favorite swim in all the world and it's doable for pretty much anyone who sets their mind to it. Getting escorted the whole way makes you feel more comfortable, especially if you're new to the ballgame." There's been a couple of occasions where it's gotten pretty nasty out there and the swimmers have had to leave some of their escorts behind who couldn't keep up."
World Recognition:
Earlier this year the event was one of the first to be sanctioned by the World Open Water Swimming Association. It recognizes that the race promotes the sport and does so in a safe manner in keeping with the international rules and regulations.
Unique Open Water
And it's done in the best waters on the planet, Anderson said" No question in my mind that, as (TV meteorologist) Guy Hagi says, we have the best weather on the planet AND the best waters," he said. "One of our Italian competitors described it as a living, breathing thing. Most of the Olympic events are done on lakes, in calm waters. Here, we get whatever Mother Nature wants. "It's a different swim going down and coming back. It's the only event we have where navigation plays a big role."
12 Month Season:
That the race is held in December is not to make it Hawaii's version of a polar bear swim. It was done so, according to Anderson, to fill that gap between the traditional end of swimming season -- the Labor Day Roughwater Swim -- and the beginning in April. "Putting it in December, there was another reason to swim and workout," he said. "It changed the whole swimming community."
Hall of Fame Make Room: Here Comes Jim Anderson
Anderson is Honoree of the  International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame  IMSHOF since 2014! Congratulations!
Steve Munatones
1986 – 1987 HISTORY
The Middle Era
WRS Swim Director Steve Munatones
Australian Connection
     Steve started the relationship with Bondi Beach, Australia. This involved exchanging winners which grew into a warm long-distance relationship. This in turn has led to a steady supply of very fast ocean swimmers coning to Hawaii and taking home a number of winner’s koa bowls!
Swim Clinics Begin
     Steve started a series of five Roughwater swim clinics leading up to the race. These have now been popular for decades.
Bus Service & Swim Caps
     Steve started a bus service from finish to start. Yet another new idea was getting TYR and McCully Bicycles to donate all the swim caps.
Springboard to Fame
     Steve credits his WRS experience as a great stepping stone to his present position as world dean of Open Water Swimming with multiple web sites keeping tens of thousands of swimmers "in the swim". He is now an expert on open water swimming throughout the world. He tells us we were, for many years, the biggest swim in the world at one time. We are still the largest, he says, in the USA. Taiwan has a couple of swims with as many as 26,000 swimmers ! Did we cause that?
Steve Bobko
The Middle Era
Steve Bobko
Steve Bobko
UH Swim Warrior
     Steve came to Hawaii in 1974 as a Rainbow Warrior for the University of Hawaii. He set numerous swimming records while there which, he says, "have long since fallen". After college, he stayed in Hawaii to launch his professional career. In addition, he stayed active in swimming with regular Sunday swims off San Souci Beach, doing "singles" and some days "doubles" (Roughwater Swims).
Steve Takes the Helm
      In 1985 he chaired the Roughwatert Swim. He remembers that timing was becoming more automated during his tenure with results being posted within hours of the finish. He fondly remembers the substantial help given him by Dick Cowan and Alan Hong.
Big Island Beckons
    In 1986 Stephen moves to the Big Island but continues to swim for many years. His new swimming hole became Kealakekua Bay and he sponsored a swimming event there in 1987. None the less, he would often return to swim the Waikiki Roughwater Swim with some of his swimming buddies.
Wyoming and Arizona
   Having retired from his professional career and moved to the Mainland, he and his wife Joanna, now split their time between Alpine, Wyoming and Carefree, Arizona. 
Gen Iinuma
1983 - 1984 History
The Middle Era
WRS Swim Director Gen Iinuma
In His Own Words
      "I took on the Director’s position for 2 years, I believe it was [1983 and 84], with encouragement and prodding from Fred Trask.  The job was made easier because of the core group of volunteers that supported the effort and took on the many tasks and activities that need to be done to pull the event off.  Alan Hong was our go-to person for everything in the water.
Alan Hong & Pre-GPS
       These were the pre-GPS years and to find the course turn marker placement sites, Alan used photos of the Honolulu land scape to line up the boat on the right spots to locate the big cement blocks used to anchor the turn buoys. He also organized and directed the water safety crew on surf boards and support vessels.
Audy Kimura & Safety Committee
      The Safety Committee lead person was Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Audy Kimura. He organized his support crew and coordinated with Alan.
Bruce Clark Referee & Tough Decision
       One of the races under my directorship was a bit controversial.  Sydney, Australia, surfing champion and 1980 Olympic bronze medalist, Max Metzker was entered in the adult division.  Neither he, nor the race committee was aware that he should be entered in the age group category in order to preserve his Olympics Trials status.
       All parties became aware of the situation when the race finished and a decision was made to award him the 1st place finish in the age group division to protect his amateur Olympic competition status. This brought protests from the age group winner, Tore Blickfeldt, who was unfortunately bumped from his 1st place finish.
       The Race Committee supported Referee Bruce Clark’s tough decision to make this adjustment in order to ensure that Max’s Olympic status would not be jeopardized. It was not an easy decision to make and it was regretful that Tore suffered from it. As a result of this action, 1976 Olympic gold medalist, Jim Montgomery, moved to 1st overall position in the adult division.
Race Committee in Action
       Others on the Committee included but are not limited to Fred Trask, Jim Anderson, Terri Frank, Richard Silva, Harry Huffaker, Steve Bobko, and from here my minds eye becomes blurry. Behind the scenes there are always folks that contribute to the success of the program, among them Shige and Ethel Pabila, Atom Kimm, members of the Waikiki Swim Club, et. al.  I apologize for not mentioning everyone who lent a hand in getting the work done.  The City and County of Honolulu was a major sponsor. Dick Cowan of time Line Corporation used his computer system to tabulate results. Steve Bobko jumped into the local Waikiki Swim Club family and worked and swam with Mike and Laura Miller as well as other front pack swimmers such as Rick Heltzel & Doug Rice.
Extremely Strong Currents
        "The 14th Annual 1983 WRS had extremely strong current conditions moving north to south.  From the depths of my memory I think several hundred swimmers were not able to battle the current and eventually DQ’d.  I remember someone saying that a couple of swimmers were taken by current near the Diamond Head buoy, though I can’t confirm this.
       As a result of this event the Committee made a decision that Race Directors (me at the time) would not be allowed to swim in future races.  Another decision made at the time was that Race Directors would be given a lifetime free entry to future WRS events.
Different Starts Tried
         "Different race starts were tried as the number of participants grew over the years.  During this period of time the WRS starts were everyone starts together or a staggered start with the Masters swimming first followed by the USSI age group youth a half hour later. Over thousand swimmers in the water at one time make for challenging safety conditions. In hind sight, it’s amazing that no one was ever injured or drowned during the hectic initial surge into the water during the start."
Fred Trask
1976 - 1982 History
The Growth Era
WRS Director Fred Trask
Fred Remembered
      In early 1976 Cotton was recalled again to overseas service…this time in Iran. Cotton’s fine friend and finer athelete, FRED TRASK stepped forward and took over the serious job of running the Swim. He served six long years and 20 more years in taking leading support responsibilities. He moved the swim way up into a major national event. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2011 while still swimming and helping with the program up to very nearly the end.
Alan Hong & Dick Cowan
        When interviewed for this history, Fred wanted to give special credit to Alan Hong for in-water operations and Dick Cowan for his pioneering work in sports computer programing and execution. So here is that promise.
      Fred was modest and soft spoken. His motto was always: “Lets Get On With the Show” which he loved to say when he shoved me aside and grabbed the microphone.
In Fred's Son's Words:
     (Fortunately we have his son, Matt, to fill in the story)
Ultimate Family Man
        "As everyone knows, the Roughwater played a big role in our family. My Dad, Fred Trask, set his calendar every year by the Labor Day event. I can remember the excitement when he found a loud canon he could use to start the race at San Souci beach. Us kids shrieked with joy when he fired that thing. Of course, my Mom only tolerated it.
Fred Trask
Fred, in his prime, as a great Swimmer-Athelete
Son Matthew
Daughter Ellen & Grands
Fred Trasks Ashes
Fred's ashes being interred in the very WRS starting
leg water he loved and swam thru so furiously for so many years.
Pall Swimmers: (Left to Right):
Jim Cotton, son Andy, best friend Howard Shima and Kaia Hedlund
       He wanted the challenge of organizing it too. If he saw ways to improve the race he would do it. Always trying to improve the timing of the waves of swimmers so they would not interfere with each other and improve safety. He wanted the race to be an integral part of Hawaii [which it has become.] He believed everyone should try to swim the Roughwater.
Loved Challenges
       One time we had to find the anchor for the Hilton turn bouy. I looked down in the water from the boat we were on, and thought I could dive deep enough to reach the anchor, but it was too deep for me so one of Fred"s buddies had to dive down to reach it. I was so impressed that someone could go that deep without tanks.
     We used to train as a family to get ready for the race every Saturday morning with the Waikiki Swim Club at Ala Moana beach. Dad was extremely enthusiastic about the Roughwater. He enjoyed nothing more than a challenge. Swimming the race was not enough.
       He wanted the challenge of organizing it too. If he saw ways to improve the race he would do it. Always trying to improve the timing of the waves of swimmers so they would not interfere with each other and improve safety. He wanted the race to be an integral part of Hawaii [which it has become.] He believed everyone should try to swim the Roughwater.
Fred, in his prime, as a great Swimmer-Athelete
Maui Boy  
       Ever since he grew up as a swimmer at Maui High, he believed that swimming was the best exercise for the body and always hoped more people would take it up as a sport. He felt volunteering as a race director and having the race run by volunteers and the City and County of Honolulu was important to keep the entry fee low enough so that more people could afford it.For many years he kept the entry fee $5.00 !
Nature Lover  
       He loved nature too. I'll never forget the time he and I were practicing  for the swim off Queens beach and we had to stop in mid workout to to drift above a couple of turtles who swam beneath us. It was a rare in the 70's to see turtles in those days before Waikiki became a marine preseerve.
       Fred's would give best wishes for the future of the Waikiki Roughwater Swim and Waikiki Swim Club."
Signed, Mathew, his son.
So long Fred, thanks for a lifetime of friendship, your admiring friend since we met at Ala Moana beach one Sat morning in 1971.
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
Bill Woolsey
Peter Cole, Mark Finley
Peter Cole,  2 unidentified, Mark Finley
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?
       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.
       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.
John Bi. Kelly
John B. Kelly, Jr,
4 times Olympian, Son of John B Kelly 3 times Olympian
Grace Kelly
His sister, Princess Grace Kelly, Oscar winner, had nothing to do with our Swim!
Early Celebrities Help Get Swim Awareness
Give Radio, TV and Print Interviews and Host Award Ceremonies
Mrs. Nadine Kahanamoku Presents Ford Perpetual Trophy
Buster Crabbe
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
Nadine Kahanamoku
Lloyd Osborne
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 Shin    
       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:
Rabbit Island Swim and Picnic and Tennis
Hostessed by gracious founding member Eve Anderson
(Picture below taken on her beach-side lawn)
Swim Club Invitation
Key Pioneers of Club & RWSwim
Ladies Key
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.
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.
Hilton Rainbow Tower
Hilton  Rainbow Tower
Harry Huffaker
Harry Huffaker
Channel Swimming Pioneer
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.
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.
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
1972 Awards Ceremony
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.
Later Day Roper Romping across the Maui Channel with one of his many CoEd Mixed Makule teams:
   Off Lainai Start Beach                       Bob Roper, SF Bay Legend            Trudy Swimming Mid-Ocean
Off Lainai Start Beach
Trudy, Mid-Ocean
Bob Roper, SF Bay legend
Trudy                                   OooLaLa                           Rosemary
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 newsin 2013: Some of the Maui Swimmers are migrating to Waikiki.
So Good Luck to All, and Remember:
Lifetime Vigorous Swimming for Fun, Sport and Health