The Long Walk Home From The Waikiki Roughwater Swim

The Long Walk Home From The Waikiki Roughwater Swim

The Waikiki Roughwater Swim is back for its 43rd edition.

The classic swim from the foot of Diamond Head to the Hilton Hawaiian Village was started by Jim Cotton and his Waikiki Swim Club colleagues back in 1970 (shown below) and has grown with the sport.

Olympians, world champions, actors, teachers, police officers, doctors, drivers, children, senior citizens and swimmers from hundreds of countries have participated in the 2.4-mile swim.

The Waikiki Roughwater Swim is also part of the legacy of multi-sport events. In the early 1980s, its distance gave birth to the swim leg of the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon when its 2.4-mile distance became the standard distance of full-length Ironman triathlons.

Over the decades, numerous heart-warming stories abound and add to the lore of the Swim.

The annals include stories that few people know to the well-documented heroism displayed in the 2003 race when hundreds of swimmers had to be rescued when the currents created havoc.

Wayne Thiessen, a 39-year-old father of six, was the subject of one little-known episode back in 1972. Busy working for his large family, Thiessen had little time to properly train. His training largely consisted of playing in the water with his brood on the weekends. But even in the third edition of the Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the event attracted people of all abilities. Thiessen just wanted to participate and be a part of the local event, so he asked his wife to drop him off at the start.

A garrulous man, he enjoyed the camaraderie of the mass participation event. With no designs on being competitive, Thiessen just want to complete the race. Swimming comfortably and steadily through the rough water conditions, he finished 105th in 2 hours 12 minutes. After hanging around the beach to enjoy the awards ceremonies, Thiessen faced a problem that he easily found a solution. He had no way to get back home to Hawaii Kai – 13 miles away in eastern Oahu.

With goggles in hand and swimsuit dry, he did not complain. He simply walked and walked and walked. Through Waikiki, around Diamond Head, through high-priced Kahala, passed the golf courses and along Maunalua Bay towards Koko Head, Thiessen kept on walking 13 miles in total.

Wayne Thiessen, powered by the aloha spirit and part of the lore of the Waikiki Roughwater Swim.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones