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Keo Nakama Meet

From Openwaterpedia
Poster from the 1946 Keo Nakama Swimming Meet on Oahu, Hawaii
Keo Nakama, namesake of the Keo Nakama Invitational. Photo courtesy of Swimming World Magazine
Keo Nakama finishing a crossing of the Molokai Channel, photo courtesy of Ken Sakamoto of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin

The Keo Nakama Invitational or the Keo Nakama Meet is the longest continuously running competitive swimming meet held on Oahu in the State of Hawaii.


In 1946, the inaugural Keo Nakama Invitationalwas held in the salt water of the War Memorial Natatorium near Diamond Head Volcano on Oahu.

Keo Nakama

Keo Nakama was a famed waterman, competitive swimmer and channel swimmer inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1967 and in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1975.

Molokai Channel

Nakama was the first person to swim from the island of Molokai to Oahu in Hawaii, finishing in Hanauma Bay at night in front of thousands of well-wishers. He crossed the 43.4 km (27-mile) Kaiwi Channel (Molokai Channel)in 1961 in 15 hours 30 minutes at the age of 41.

Pool Swimming Career

As a pool swimmer, Nakama is honored in the International Swimming Hall of Fame for his 5 gold medals in the 1940 Pan American Swimming Championships, his 27 USA national swimming titles from 110 yards to 1500 meters, his six Australian National Championships and his world record in the mile and for captaining the two NCAA Men‟s Swimming Championship teams at Ohio State where he also played baseball as a unique two-sport high-level athlete.

Post-Swimming Career

Nakama 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 swim coach, teacher and athletic director. He was first elected to the Hawaiian Legislature in 1964. Hawaii's big Annual International Swimming Meet at the tide-filled Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium was naturally named the Keo Nakama Invitational. Whether he was scouting baseball players for the Detroit Tigers or serving as assistant Majority Floor Leader of the Hawaiian State Legislature or swimming in the pool or open water, there was always achievement wherever there is Keo Nakama.

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