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Molokai Swimmers Headed for States

Six Molokai swimmers are headed to the state competition this weekend on Hawaii Island to culminate a season of dedication and records.

“This is the best year since I’ve been coaching for four years,” said coach Jessie Ford. “We’re building on our successes and we want to build the momentum.”

The swimmers will be racing in two boys relay events, the 200 yard medley and the 200 freestyle. Medley competitors are Luke Kikugawa, Caulin Nelson, Nui Helm and Michaiah Soares, while Keao Ross and Conan Kawano will make up the freestyle team along with Helm and Soares, who are competing in both races. Both teams got state consideration times in the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) championship races two weeks ago, and are in the top 24 in the state, said Ford.

This was also a season of breaking school records, said former Molokai swim coach Lloyd Yonemura. The Molokai Men’s 200 Yard Freestyle Relay time at the MIL meet was 1:38.82, which broke the previous Molokai High School record of 1:39.57, set in 1997 by Michael Manglicmot, Lenn Yonemura, Steven (Keola) Stone, and Jonathan Joao, according to Yonemura.

Additionally, Helm’s time of :59.33 in the 100 yard butterfly at the MIL championship finals this year broke the previous school record of :59.64 for the event set by Michael Manglicmot in 1997.

Despite the season’s strong showing, the team’s hard work is not over yet. Because of Molokai athletic budget shortfalls, the athletes needs to raise their own money to attend this year’s state competition, and Ford said they are asking for support from the community. With accommodations on Hawaii Island already donated, the six swimmers need $2,500 to make the trip.

“The kids have worked really hard this year… they even did double practices over Christmas break,” said Ford. “They really deserve this.”

To make a contribution, contact Ford at jesserinford@gmail.com or visit the team at the Kaunakakai pool from 3 to 4:30 p.m. this week.


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