Proposal Seeks to Rename Kahului Pool after Coach Shiraishi

February 21, 2014, 2:03 PM HST · Updated February 22, 11:24 AM
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Kahului Pool located at 145 Kaulawahine Street. File photo courtesy County of Maui.

Kahului Pool located at 145 Kaulawahine Street. File photo courtesy County of Maui.

By Wendy Osher

A resolution seeking to rename the Kahului Pool in honor of long-time Maui swim coach Spencer Shiraishi, was referred to committee today for consideration.

Several residents testified in support of the measure, calling Shiraishi a “life coach” and dedicated volunteer who “impacted thousands of people and taught hundreds of children to swim.”

According to the Maui News, Saichi Spencer Shiraishi, Sr. was born on July 19, 1926 in Pāʻia, Maui.  He was the chief engineer for KMVI Radio & Television Stations and the founder of the Maui Swim Club in 1958, the publication reports.

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Members are hoping to expedite the passage of the resolution so that they can unveil the sign for the proposed Coach Spencer Shiraishi Memorial Pool during an annual swim meet set to take place over the Memorial Day weekend.

“This year will be the first year that Coach Spencer Shiraishi will not be present at the meet,” said resident John L Buck III.

“The swimming community, because of his dedication and time he spent, thought that this would be an outstanding tribute to him,” said Buck, who noted that at times, he and others would refer to the pool as Spencer’s Pool because of the fact that the Coach spent so much time there.

Fellow testifier Howard Hanzawa said, “I don’t know of any individual who has spent so much time in contributing his time to training kids to swim and to become responsible adults.  We’re not talking about 5 or 10 years, we’re talking about 5 or 6 decades–just about every day, thousands of hours.  He was always there smiling and cracking jokes.”

A fellow coach with the organization testified calling Shiraishi, “an incredible example of patience, long-suffering, kindness, gentleness, fairness and Godliness.  He wasn’t just a swim coach, but he was a life coach.”

The testifier reflected on the life lessons Shiraishi shared during breaks in practice saying, “He would talk to them about doing well in school, and honoring your parents; and he would tell them funny stories, and tell them jokes and get them laughing.  He was strictly a volunteer coach, and his coaching experience spanned for more than 60 years.  He impacted thousands of people and taught hundreds of children to swim.”

Testifiers also credited Shiraishi with volunteer work, and expressed gratitude for the summer Learn to Swim Program that was offered to members of the community.

“Every year he would have that and the class was free.  He never made a penny on all his time helping the community,” said Hanzawa.

“He did what he loved right up until the very end,” testifiers explained.

Council Member Don Guzman, who introduced the item said, “These resolutions will refer this matter to both the Commission on Naming Streets, Parks and Facilities, and the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission for further comment that will help the council in its final decision.”

In addition, to expedite the process, Guzman said, “I request the council to refer county communication 14-48 to the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, so that both commissions’ comments can be directly referred to the committee in a timely manner.”

The motion was approved for committee referral in a 7 to 0 vote in favor, with two members excused.

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