Charles "Sparky" Kawamoto

Swim Stadium

Hilo, Hawaii

The dome-like shaped facility that you would see when traveling through Hilo town was the Ho'olulu Swim Stadium. It is now renamed Charles "Sparky " Kawamoto Swim Stadium.

Charles "Sparky" Kawamoto was born on July 6, 1908 in Hilo, Hawaii. In his early life, he attended Waiakea Union School and Hilo High School. While at Hilo High, he played in barefoot football and baseball leagues. In the mid 1930's, he had formed the Shinmachi Town Swimming Club into an organization that trained the swimming talents of Hilo. In the days before the pool was built, he training these youths at Radio Bay and Wailoa River in Hilo, for there was no swimming pool available in Hilo at that time.

What made him so special was his being the greatest swimming coach on the Big Island? 100 percent of his coaching and teaching time was voluntary. Known to the "Big Islanders" as the "Father of Competitive Swimming." Although Mr. Kawamoto had tuberculosis and couldn't swim, he trained the first Olympic champion in Hawaii in 1952, Yoshinobu Oyakawa, a Gold Medalist in the 100-meter backstroke. He also trained other Olympians such as Denise Baker, Edward Kawachika, Laurence Hao, and Richard Sonny Tanabe. Mr. Kawamoto was also the founder of the Hilo Aquatics Club that still trains at the Kawamoto Swim Stadium. Sparky Kawamoto had spent a lifetime sharing his skills with others, devoting his time in developing the talents of the local youths and in pioneering a swim program for senior citizens and for victims of strokes.

On January 19, 1982, there was a ceremony to rename the Ho'olulu Swim Stadium to the Charles "Sparky" Kawamoto Swim Stadium in honor of the Big Island's greatest swimming coach. Two months later, in April 1982, Mr. Kawamoto passed away at the age of 73.