2006, September 4th. The 2nd Annual 'Aumakua 2.4 Mile and "Sprint" mile was a beautiful day in Makena Maui. This was the year we all had fun putting up our friends heading over to the Maui Channel Swim in our homes because of the fire Friday-Saturday and even Sunday on the south point of the West Maui Mountans near Ma'alaea Harbor. The Channel Crossing was a rough one ... not like 2001 with heavy swell in the middle only ... this was rough from start to finish ... chop hitting all of us from beginning to end ... losing goggles as we went through a breaker ... turning turtle to catch a breath of fix goggles after getting hit "just right". The 'aumakua swim was a welcome relief to all that chop on a smooth medium murky day. Sorry to share this with those who can't visit us often enough, but we normally have clearer days ... check our photographer's official site for weekly updates.
Beginning and 2005 History
The seeds of this race were planted in 2003. The 2003 Waikiki Roughwater Swim had that really strong current and only ~350 of 1000+ finished. As one of the precautions for 2004, the WRS committee moved the 2004 WRS to Sunday (due partially to possible box jellyfish interaction). This was too soon after the Maui Channel Swim and the banquet Saturday night, so Doug Rice, Ian Emberson & I set up a course here on Maui for an fun unofficial untimed Labor Day 2.4 mile fun swim that went from Makena Landing to Pu'u Ola'i and back.
Then early in 2005, we heard WRS was going to STAY on Sunday ... and Ian was considering moving the MCS to Friday ... which didn't serve MCS swimmers well. Doug, Ian & I (same MCS team "Magic Island Swimmers") talked and said ... why not. First, I contacted my friend Ted (WRS race director) to see if there was any chance to change back Monday ... and he said no - they're keeping it on Sunday because he'd gotten good feedback on the Sunday swim and it was a better for all the people who run the swim. I talked to Janet Renner (Hawaii Masters Swim Association president) ... she thought it was a good idea and it wouldn't conflict with the long running Maui Roughwater Swim at the end of September; and agreed that Ted & the WRS would be staying on Sunday. So we contacted a few people to see if they'd be interested (a few Maui Masters, O-Club swimmer Jim Krueger who swims with us Sundays and a couple of others). Word got out faster than I expected - we hadn't even decided to do the race, and the "O" club and to Rose Bowl Masters were emailing about how they always wanted to have a race on Maui, keep from having to travel to Waikiki (check out, check in to another hotel, flights, more rental car stuff, moving to a city from beautiful Maui, the extra costs of flights and "three-point" travel between home city, Maui and Honolulu, etc.).
So we went for it. Doug agreed to be the co-race director (and set up the course). We had done many smaller races here on Maui, and we weren't sure how many would swim with us .. but we got almost 200 2.4 milers, and ~50 milers.
The Name: 'Aumakua is a Hawaiian word referring to Hawaiian spirit ancestors ... many of which are in the ocean and which we respect. They include (mostly and usually) sharks, but also opi'i, turtles, owls, etc. Check out the bottom of the entry form and the home page on this site for the definition and some links to webpages about 'Aumakua. Doug, Jim, and I were sitting around after a Sunday ocean swim with a few others trying to think of a name ... originally it was the "Maui Coral swim" because we were going to set the course to maximize seeing coral and hopefully other sea life. I think it was JimK who mentioned 'Aumakua ... and that became the name almost immediately.
The Arch: A group of us often swim this site ~8am most every Sunday. (Pink Cap swimmers or whatever ... Jim K was contacted recently by Phil Whitten about the "Pink Cap" pictures on his website www.sunmornswim.com and he sent one in that was in last November's Swim Magazine). Don Bloom also has lots of pictures from these swims at http://www.tropicallight.com/swim.htm).
Anyway, during one swim when we were first taking this on, Jim mentioned we ought to require people to swim through "the arch". We all laughed ... but also knew it would be a great idea. I knew we couldn't and didn't want to require it, so we made it an option and finally decided on a 2 minute "time-off" token for those that decided to do it (changed to one minute this year).
Optional Distances: Like the La Jolla RWS which I used to do when I lived in So Cal, I wanted to have a choice of distances ... not everyone is up to the 2.4 mile swim ... so we added a 1-mile option. (This option allowed me to do the race, too, while the other swimmers did their 2.4 mile ... as race director I never could have done the whole swim AND stay on shore.) This also allows swimmers' families to join in. As does ...
USA-S and USMS: Unlike WRS, this swim is a USA Swimming AND US Masters Swimming sanctioned event.
The rest was coordination of all needed to do an ocean swim (King's Trail access, Park and Ocean permits, food, t-shirts and caps, arranging for ocean safety and an ambulance on standby, contacting boats and Coast Guard with an advisory, awards, etc.) Patti Hawkins (one of our Sunday swimmers) designed the overall first place awards, and the t-shirt design. (She's designing a new one for this years' race.) Jim Krueger was originally in one of other animals on the t-shirt design, but we decided to put him in a fish instead ;-)
We had 156 swimmers who actually swam the 2.4 mile; and 51 for the "Sprint Mile" (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one). We had ~30 no shows. "The Arch" actually scrambled results quite a bit ... so that Bobby Patten & Robert Placak who came up the beach first, but who didn't do "the arch", got 9th & 11th overall behind Lisa Hazen - our overall winner. We posted results both ways because people like to play/race differently.
Many people from Rocky Mtn Masters had come over to do a "Triple Play": MCS, WRS, 'Aumakua. Sadly, they were frustrated by conditions due to a large south swell that came in with a really strong current as in 2003 ... and unfortuneately the WRS was cancelled.
It now appears that WRS will be on Monday this year - and perhaps into the future. Originally we were thinking about holding the event on a "different" day than the WRS, but really to best serve the MCS & Maui swimmers (and because of the setup needed the day before our race), we'll be continuing to do this swim on Labor day ... 2 days after the MCS. And maybe (someday ... although I'm not sure about how we could make it work yet), we could partner up with WRS in a different way ... find a way to correlate results from the two swims so we can compare results and best serve the swimmers visiting Hawaii.
*Krueger & Keck
*The Learning Center of Maui
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