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The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory

Julie Checkoway
# UP8832 Paperback, 449 pages; 2016 (2015)
Currently Unavailable
In Hawaii in 1937, coach Soichi Sakamoto challenged his swimmers to join the Three-Year Swim Club, a commitment to devote three years of their lives exclusively to swimming in a bid for the 1940 Olympics in Tokyo. It was a tall order for any amateur athlete, but for this specific band of swimmers, it was extraordinary. A poor schoolteacher on the island of Maui, Sakamoto taught his Japanese American students to swim in the filthy ditches of the sugar plantation where they lived and worked alongside their immigrant parents, in conditions little better than slavery. The obstacles they faced were enormous—they were poor and malnourished, training with equipment cobbled together from trash by a coach who could barely swim himself, in a nation rife with anti-Japanese sentiment. As underdog stories go, this one is truly remarkable, a triumphant tale of the grit and determination that propelled a small band of athletes out of the sugarcane fields and onto the world stage. (KG)
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