|First athlete from Hawai'i to win an Olympic gold medal.
[ 2006-11-23 11:23 ]
Duke Kahanamoku was Hawai'i's first Olympic medalist. He participated
in three Olympic Games: 1912 in Stockholm, Sweden (one gold and one silver
medal); 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium (two gold medals); 1924 in Paris (one silver
medal). Duke won a total of five Olympic medals! He is a member of the Olympic
Hall of Fame. At age 42, he retired from competitive swimming.
Duke also won the 100-meter free-style Amateur Athletic Union Outdoor
Championships in 1916, 1917 and 1920. A Hawaiian representing the United States,
Duke preceded Johnny Weissmuller as "The World's Fastest Swimmer." Duke replaced
the outmoded "scissors kick" with his novel "flutter kick."
In Paris at the 1924 Olympics, three of the Kahanamoku brothers qualified for
the U.S. Olympic Team - Duke, Sam and David. Duke won a silver medal in the
100-meter free-style swim, and Sam won a bronze medal in the same division.
Duke was involved with other sports, as well. In 1908, Duke and his friends
organized one of the first amateur surfing clubs, Hui Nalu (Club of the Waves).
They discussed the condition of the surf and formulated some of the rules in use
today. As a famous swimmer, Duke traveled abroad to teach water-safety methods
for the Red Cross. Wherever he traveled, Duke introduced his first love -
Duke also pioneered tandem surfing (one surfer sitting on the
shoulders of another) in 1919. He was the first to wind-surf (to use a sail
attached to a surfboard) and the first to wake-surf (on the wake behind a
In 1966, Kahanamoku was the first inductee into the Surfing Hall of