Duke Paoa Kahanamoku was a five-time U.S. Olympic medalist in swimming.
He competed in the Olympics from 1912 to 1932 as a Swimmer and as a member of the Water Polo team.
Duke was also a surfer who introduced the sport to Australia and the Mainland U.S.
Duke saved some lives, too.
In 1925, in Newport Beach, California, he was on shore when he saw a fishing boat capsize in heavy surf near the harbor. He got on his surfboard and paddled out, making several round-trips, to rescue the fisherman. That day, twenty-nine fisherman fell into the water. Seventeen died. Duke saved eight of them.
But Duke was more than all of this to his fellow Hawaiians and to those who still place leis in his arms and along his feet near the shores of Waikiki.
Duke was an ambassador of Aloha.
Like the sanskrit word, Namaste, Aloha evokes a sincere affection toward your fellow man, opponent or teammate, foe or friend.
His athleticism was just one aspect of him.
His spirit was Aloha.
Athletic records will always be broken, and Duke's were surpassed long ago.
But the spirit can never be broken nor surpassed.
The spirit always endures.
“In Hawai’i we greet friends, loved ones or strangers with ALOHA, which means LOVE. Aloha is the key-word to the universal spirit of real hospitality, which makes Hawai’i renowned as the world’s center of understanding and fellowship. Try meeting or leaving people with ALOHA. You’ll be surprised by their reaction. I believe it and it is my creed. ALOHA to you.”
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku