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
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