DUKE PAOA KAHANAMOKU

(1890-1968)
First athlete from Hawai'i to win an Olympic gold medal.
Father of surfing.

Duke Kahanamoku was Hawai'i's first Olympic medalist. He participated in four 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 - surfing.



Kahanamoku brothers (left to right):
Bill, Sam, Louis, David, Sargent and Duke.

photo courtesy of Tai Sing Loo, Bishop Museum.

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 motorboat).

In 1966, Kahanamoku was the first inductee into the Surfing Hall of Fame.

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America was founded on March 12, 1912; the original name was American Girl Guides.


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