“Spearfishing and the Evolution of Freediving” are the subjects of speaker Richard “Sonny” Tanabe in the fourth free monthly presentation in Kona Historical Society’s Hanohano ‘O Kona -Honoring Kona Lecture Series. Scheduled for Wednesday, April 25, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Tanabe’s talk takes place at West Hawai‘i Civic Center, where Kealakehe Parkway intersects with Ane Keohokālole Highway.
A self-described “barefoot boy from the island of Hawai‘i,” Tanabe began his swimming career by free diving with his uncle off the coast of Hilo. Soon his father persuaded him to participate in the activities of Hilo Aquatic Club coached by Sparky Kawamoto. Tanabe was an All-America swimmer at Hilo High School and Indiana University, where he earned NCAA and AAU honors. He won a spot on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team that participated in the 1956 Melbourne Games.
After serving in the military and returning to Indiana University to earn an MS in Physical Education, he became Assistant Aquatic Director and Swim Coach for Hinsdale Township High School in Hinsdale, Ill. It wasn’t too long, however, before he came home to Hawai‘i to teach and coach for more than 33 years at Kamehameha Schools.
In addition to his commitment to competitive swimming, Tanabe has enjoyed spear fishing and free diving all his life, recently writing books about each of them. He has also given back to the world of aquatics by volunteering his talent and time to various organizations and competitions connected with water sports.
The Hanohano ‘O Kona – Honoring Kona Lecture Series is hosted by the County of Hawai‘i.