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Fact of the Day

Mar 28, 2000

His swimmers trained in an irrigation ditch and became champs
Coach Soichi Sakamoto 1906-1997, of Hawaii coached some of the World's top swimmers and was one the most successful swimming coaches in history. Sakamoto was a science teacher at Puunene School on Maui, and many of his swimmers moved there to train under his strict hand.

For want of a pool, Soichi first trained swimmers in irrigation ditches in the sugar cane fields. Among many others, he coached such great Olympians as Bill Smith, Keo Nakama, Bill Woolsey, Ford Konno and Evelyn Kawamoto. He was an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic Swim Team from 1952 - 1956 and nine of his swimmers swam in those Games; four earned medals, including gold by Oyakawa, Konno and Woolsey, while Smith was Olympic 400 metres champion at the London Olympics in 1948.

Coach Sakamoto is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the University of Hawaii's Manoa Circle of Honor. The swimming facility at the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku, Maui, is named in his honour.