Keo Nakama

 Keo Nakama never got his chance at the Olympics because of World War II, but his "Big Meet" record is no less Olympian. At the 1940 Pan American Swimming Championships in Ecuador, the diminutive Hawaiian won 5 events. At the Australian Nationals in 1939, he won 6 titles, adding the 330 yard Individual Medley to his sweep of all 5 freestyle events. Nakama is a little guy compared to the size of most swimming champions, but wherever he has been big things have happened, not only to himself but to what ever team he has belonged.

During his swimming career in the early 1940's, Nakama won 27 National Championships from 110 yards to 1500 meters. His World Records extend from the mile (1760 yards) swum at New Haven when he was 22 years old to the 27 mile Molokai Channel, a first-time ever swim, when he was 41 years old.

Nakama's 3 varsity seasons at Ohio State, were Big Ten and NCAA Championship years for Hall of Fame Coach Mike Peppe's Buckeyes with Keo the captain his last two years. He also captained the Ohio State University baseball team. Back in the Islands Keo's Coach, Hall of Fame Coach Soichi Sakamoto, was beginning a new era of great Hawaiian Swimming.

 He trained them in an irrigation ditch on Maui and his first of many National Champions was Keo Nakama. Keo's Puunene School won its first Maui School Swimming Championships when Keo and his friend, Halo Hirose, became old enough to swim. It was the same at Maui High School and on the main land when Sakamoto's Nakama led Alexander House Community Association Team won the first of several U.S. National AAU Team Championships in 1939. After the war, Hawaii's big Annual International Swimming Meet at the tide-filled Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium was naturally named the Keo Nakama Meet.

Keo received his Masters Degree at Ohio State in 1945, taught at the University for two years and then returned to Hawaii as a high school swimming coach, teacher and athletic director. He was elected and served in the Hawaii State Legislature from 1964 to 1974.

Keo is married to the former Evelyn Oyadomori and they have 6 daughters. Currently, Keo is a Community Relations Director for the HGEA and also is a baseball scout for the Detroit Tigers.