An Avid Fan of Keo Nakama


As Roy (Yonahara) grew up on the island of Maui, he kept an intensely filled photo album of news clipping and photos of Maui's greatest swimmer, Keo Nakama.

This photo album, as I understood, started when Keo first went over to O'ahu and annihilated the competition from O'ahu as well as the mainland. Some of those HSC-Maui swimmers are still doing it today.

News clippings large, small, even one line sentences of Keo Nakama. From Detroit Michigan to Columbus Ohio, South America - Ecuador, all over Australia to the 26 mile (39,000 meters, swimmers can you comprehend a 39,000 meter swim?) Moloka'i Channel. All very well documented in the thick album that he treasured.

Uncle Roy used to tell us stories about the great Maui swimmer, telling us how Keo used to practice his swimming techniques - daily. He talked about other great swimmers from Maui: Halo Hirose, Fujiko Katsutani, Jose Balmores, Benny Castor, Chic Miyamoto, John Tsukano, Bill Neunzig, Mike Ginoza, Bunmei Nakama and Bill Smith - wow the list of Maui nators went on and on. Sorry if I left anyone out.

While we took our family trips to Maui, Uncle volunteered to coach us. "I thought this was a vacation!" we said.

And of all pools to take us, he took us to Iao pool. I was sure this pool, was refrigerated ! We weren't really training, we were just swimming back and forth to keep warm ! Uncle trained us as he thought _Coach Sakamoto would train us.

(1) Do your best and (2) Don't shame your family name. He was the "Okage Sama ", the quiet, moving force behind us.

He has always been supportive of me coaching Hawaii Swimming Club. But, I always knew he cheered the Maui teams.

"Aaah, there's a Hawaii Swimming Club here on Maui now" he said, "That's good !"

Uncle Roy and Aunt Myra always opened up their house to the swim team whenever we traveled to Maui for a swim meet. They helped feed the swimmers, and transport them to the meet and once,even drove to the summit of Haleakala for sunrise! Their Aloha for the swimmers were above and beyond.


Thanks Uncle, I will always remember you!


In this picture is Aunt Leatrice (sister) , Uncle Roy and wife, Myra.


Born on October 11th, 1925, Uncle Roy passed away from cancer on June 26th, 1997.

~ Back ~