Pipes headed to Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame

  • Karlyn Pipes is the first female out of the water, trailing male athlete Jacob Schnitzler to the beach during the Cinco de Mayo Splash one-mile swim in Anaehoomalu Bay in 2017. (Rick Winters/West Hawaii Today, file)

KAILUA-KONA — For Karlyn Pipes, Hawaii has felt like home ever since she made her first visit to the islands back in 1982. Now a resident of the Aloha State, Pipes, who has dominated the Masters swimming scene for the past few years, will be inducted into the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame in September.

Like a fish to water, swimming just came natural to the 56-year-old from California. She has set more than 350 US Masters national records and has set world records in all four strokes (freestyle, back, butterfly and breast), plus every distance of the Individual medley offered.

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With such a stellar resume, Pipes will lead the 15 honorees who have been selected for the seventh class of the HOF.

“I was blown away,” said Pipes when she found out she would be inducted through an email from Carl Kawauchi, the President oft he Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame. “To say I was excited to learn the news of my induction would be an understatement.”

Inductions to the HOF do not take place every year, with ceremonies happening in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2015, and now 2018.

For Pipes, the the honor means even more because of the connection she feels to the place she now calls home.

“It is almost like my body has an ancient connection with these islands and I feel that the most when I am in the water,” she said. “For me, swimming in Hawaii is more than just a workout, it’s a spiritual experience where I am able to connect with something much bigger than myself.”

Joining Pipes in this year’s class will be Bill Sakovich and Bill Neunzig.

Sakovich, a coach who was recognized by the United Nations as the “Father of Swimming in the Pacific,” is renowned for forming competitive swimming clubs around the Pacific island region as part of his 40-year coaching career.

Neunzig was a member of Hawaii’s famous “Sugar Ditch kids,” a group of swimmers that trained in an irrigation ditch in Maui and then went on to become world-famous swimming champions in the 1930s.

Also included in this year’s class are Ulrich Klinke, Shige Pabila, Alton Motobu, Mark Takai, Sui Lan Ellsworth, Charlie Oda, Ken Walsh, Catherine Kleinschmidt, Anita Rossing, Dennis Rowe, Orlando Anaya and Bob Via.

Pipes is honored to join Duke Kahanamoku, a current member of the HOF, who was a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming and also popularized the ancient Hawaiian sport of surfing. She is even more grateful to join Takai, the late congressman and state representative, who will also join the HOF this year.

“Mark was an all-American swimmer that passed away in 2016 at the age of 49 from pancreatic cancer,” Pipes said. “In his short life he did so much for the state of Hawaii and for the sport of swimming, so his life and legacy will live on for many years to come.”

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To be inducted into the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame, members are required to be of good moral character, participate in sports for a long enough time to have developed a full resume of accomplishments, and to be a contributing member of their community. An inductee must also have been born in Hawaii or have lived in the state for at least five years.

Tickets for the 2018 induction ceremony, which takes place on Sept. 8, can be purchased at the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame website hshof.org. The event will be held at the Hale Koa Hotel on Oahu. Seats are $90 per person before July 19 and $100 after. A table can be purchased for $1,000.

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