New Year, New Friends & New Smiles

University of Kansas Swimming

We had a great start to 2018 with the women's team from University of Kansas. Big mahalo to the coaching staff and swimmers from Kansas for the clinic - and to all of our friends from Kona Dolphins for swimming together with us. 

2017 KONA Aquatics Montage


Thank you to all KONA Aquatics swimmers and parents. 2017 was filled with wonderful memories. Looking forward to an even more amazing (and fun-filled) 2018! Cheers!

3 New State Records for Maile

By Rick Winters - West Hawaii Today

KAILUA-KONA — Maile Lawson is no stranger to the Big Island swimming scene. The Hawaii Preparatory Academy junior and Kona Aquatics Swim Club standout has built a name for herself with her speed and endurance, both in the ocean and in the pool. She continues to build her athletic resume by going head-to-head with some of the best swimmers in the state, and she usually comes out on top.

Lawson competed in the Hawaii Age Group Short Course Championships, which was held over the weekend at the Kona Community Aquatic Center. Sound both physically and mentally, Lawson dominated her competition on the way to three Hawaii Age Group state records.


“She was fantastic and put up her best times in all but one of her events,” said Kona Aquatics head coach Eric Rhodes. “She is only going to get faster from here. We have her on a very specific nutrition program, she is starting a new dry-land training program, and she is injury free and having a lot of fun.”

Always excelling in the breaststroke, it was no surprise that Lawson took first in both the 100- and 200-yard events, with record times of 1:01.30 and 2:15.51, respectively. Lawson also broke the age group record in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:24.09.

Her IM time was particularly impressive because it is an event that Lawson had to learn to like.

“When I first started swimming the IM, I thought it was the hardest, and it still is, but I have grown to like it,” Lawson said. “Once you start liking something it becomes easier to do.”

Lawson also feels she has a lot of growth potential in the IM.

“I was talking to my coach right after the event, telling him the things I could do to improve,” she said. “I can still improve on by backstroke, which is not my strongest leg. I know it is a process and I am just trying to keep a positive mind.”

As for the breaststroke events, her time in the 100-yard event was particularly fast.

“Nationally, at her age, that time is really high up there,” Rhodes said. “It’s one of the best in the country.”

The key to Lawson’s success, especially lately, is her ability to bounce back from injuries. Lawson battled both shoulder and back injuries, spending a lot of time this year just trying to heal.

“She really only started swimming again in June and then we took a month off in August,” Rhodes said. “She has been swimming and getting ready for this event since September.”

Lawson sees the injury time as a life lesson.

“I learned that I really need to listen to my body and know the difference between pushing myself and pushing myself too hard,” she said. “It was a bump in the road, but now I know where my focus needs to be. I am brushing it off and focusing on what is good for me.”

Lawson is also starting to focus on life beyond the club and high school swimming scene, which means more focus on life outside of the pool, but it’s not necessarily unrelated.

“Swimming is one part of my life, school is another part, along with nutrition and college preparation,” Lawson said. “They are all different parts and I want to excel in every one because I think it will all come together at one point.

“I can always eat better and there are multiple ways to keep my body healthy. In school I am trying to absorb the information being given to me. I want to take it all in and say thank you to everyone that is trying to help me. I am so thankful.”

2017 State SCY Championships


Congratulations to all of or wonderful KONA Aquatics swimmers! HUGE drops, new State Records, new individual State Champions and tons of PRs. What an incredible way to close out the 2017 season! Looking forward to re-booting this journey with all of you in 2018!

New State Age Group Record


Maile powers her way to a new early season state record in the 200 yard breaststroke.

Maile broke the Hawaii State 200 yard breaststroke record this past Saturday at the Bill Smith Invitational. Maile dropped almost 2 seconds off of her best time. Great effort for Maile especially this early in our short course season!

Inspirational Role Model


Duke & Silas spend some quality time with Maya DiRado. Mahalo USA Swimming!

Huge Mahalo to USA Swimming and Big Island Swimming for organizing a wonderful event for our swimmers. A group of our age group and senior swimmers had a great time with 2016 Rio Olympic Champion Maya DiRado. We all learned so much and are now so inspired.

2018 Qualifying Time Standards


2018 National USA & Hawaii State Swimming Time Standards

Aloha Gang! We just updated the USA National and Hawaii State Swimming Qualifying Time Standards page on our website. Click on the image above to jump to the updated page. Mahalo!

Congratulations Girls!


2017 Kukio Ocean Swim Start!

By Rick Winters - West Hawaii Today

KAILUA-KONA — At first glance, the Kukio Blue Water Swim was plagued by bad luck.

With extremely choppy seas, the 12th annual 1.2-mile trek from Kua Bay to Kukio was set up to be a borderline torturous experience in the water.

However, while the conditions were tough, swimmers seemed to embrace the challenge against the wind and white surface breaks. Several even went as far as calling it a “fun” experience as they stood safely on dry land.

Even a controversial finish due to uncertainty about finish line placement by the two overall leaders of the race couldn’t dampen the spirits of anyone enjoying a day at the beach.

In a sprint out of the water up an unusually steep incline through soft sand, Aapo Eerola managed to edge out Tim Marr by inches with a time of 27 minutes and 57 seconds to pick up the win.

There was only one problem. Marr actually crossed the finish line first.

Coming into the bay, Eerola and Marr were battling stroke for stroke with a group of four or five other swimmers. Both athletes hit the sand at the same time, but Marr struggled just for a second to get to his feet. This allowed Eerola to get a step or two advantaged heading into the sprint.

Eerola reached the top of the sand, ran just past the clock timing the event, and slowed down, with Marr hesitating behind him. However, suddenly Marr noticed that the finish line stood another five feet past the clock. He managed to get a shoulder in front of Eerola and both swimmers dove to the line, with Marr getting the slightest of an advantage.

It was a veteran move by the former professional triathlete, however, due to both runners thinking the race was over just before the line, it was decided that Eerola would get the victory.

This was fine with Marr, who was all smiles after the race while basking in the irony of what would become another second place finish.

“Because of the confusion we pretty much crossed the finish line at the same time so I think it was the right call to give it to him since he had the edge coming up the beach,” Marr said. “It’s funny. The last time I was in this race in 2008 I had a similar experience. I got second in that one too. This is also my fourth second place finish of the year.”

With running as his strength, Marr also found the humor in the fact that he keeps getting beat on the sprint in swimming events.

“I’m a triathlete, I shouldn’t be losing on the run up the beach,” Marr said with a laugh. “But it is all good. This race is really fun and I love getting challenged by these young guys. It keeps me young.”

Young challengers being at the front of the pack at Big Island open ocean swims has become commonplace. Year after year, high school and youth club swimmers have been dominating races of similar distances.

For Eerola — a Hawaii Preparatory Academy student and member of the Academy Swim Club — he’s a perfect 2-of-2 in ocean swimming events. His first victory came earlier this year in the Cinco de Mayo Splash , the first of three races in the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.

But the win did not come easy.

“I drank a lot of water during the middle portion of the race,” Eerola said. “There were pretty much waves all the way through.”

As for the confusion at the end, Eerola laughed his mistake off

“That is what happens when you don’t listen to the rules,” he said.

Familiar names lead female race

Two women very familiar with open water swimming led the female list of finishers on Saturday. Kuuleionalani Patterson managed to beat Maile Lawson to the line with an overall fourth place finishing time of 28:02. Lawson crossed in 28:11, good for fifth place and second female honors.

For Patterson, the win was an unexpected surprise, despite having plenty of success in her young racing career.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect to be first because I was a little tired and dragging at the start of the race,” Patterson said. “Pretty early on though I started to feel a little better and by the end of the race I was pushing myself to the finish line, telling myself, ‘I can do this, I can win.’”

When Patterson finally did cross the finish line as the female winner, she was relieved.

“I pushed myself harder than I ever have for a really long time,” Patterson said. “I was really close to falling up the hill at the end, but I just sprinted as fast as I could.”

For Lawson, the race was a challenging one, mostly due to the conditions.

“This was definitely a brutal race,” Lawson said. “It was pretty choppy and I was constantly going up and down with the waves and swallowing a bunch of water every time I tried to take a breath. A lot of us had to take a break and stand up in the water to breath.”

This was Lawson’s first time competing in the race, although she has plenty of experience and hardware from racing in open water events. But when she reached the sand at Kukio, she was exhausted and then she saw the hill in front of her.

“I remember getting out of the water and looking at the hill and I was like, ‘Oh,’” Lawson said. “It was definitely not a normal beach kind of finish. I walked it, I really didn’t run it, so I don’t know what that is like.”

At the end of the day though, Lawson was thrilled to have participated in one of the few swims on the Big Island that starts and ends in different places. 

“It was really fun and I would do it again,” Lawson said. “I have never swam Kukio before and it was fun looking at the terrain after coming around the point. I now also know that I can swim from Kua to Kukio. I did not know I could do that before so that’s something.”

2017 Speedo Junior Nationals Montage

Congratulations Maile! Looking forward to our next big national meet together!

3 Golds for Coach Steve!


By Rani Henderson - West Hawaii Today

Kona’s Steve Borowski pulled off an impressive hat trick over the weekend by sweeping all three swimming events he entered at the 2017 US Masters Summer National Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Borowski competed in the men’s 70-74 age group, winning the 100-meter freestyle on Saturday in a time of one minute and 5.54 seconds, the 50-meter butterfly in 30.81 seconds, followed by the 50-meter freestyle in 27.93.

Borowski’s time in the 50-meter freestyle was also just two-tenths of a second off the current world and national record set in 2015 by Richard Abrahams.

“My goal was just to do my best and not worry about place, time or even the race,” Borowski said over the phone. “For me, the journey was 90-percent, and the race was the end of it.”

Borowski added that while he has always been really good at controlling the psychological side of things when it comes to racing, he was surprised to find that he had trouble controlling his pre-race emotions, including feeling a little scared right before the race.

“My heart rate was really high during the warm ups, and even during breakfast and throughout the day,” Borowski said with a laugh. “I kept telling myself to settle down but I think I was just really excited.”

On his first event, the 100-meter freestyle, Borowski found himself seeded in the lane next to Andrew McPherson, the one competitor favored to win all the events that Borowski planned to compete in.

“I was just behind him on the first 50 (meters) on that first event in the 100 freestyle,” Borowski said. “Then I caught and passed him on the second 50 and after we finished, he told me that he couldn’t believe how fast I came by him at the end. On the second day, I think I was behind him on the dive getting off the block on the 50 butterfly, but I was strong on the second half.”

And in Borowski’s final event, the 50-meter freestyle, he thought that it would be his weakest event. Turns out he nearly matched the world and national record of 27.71.

“I was placed in Lane 1 so I really couldn’t see how everyone else was doing,” he said. “So I just closed my eyes and went as hard as I could. I think I only took like three breaths and on that last lap, I actually swallowed a bunch of water. I felt like I was dying as I had no air for the last 15 meters or so. So when I finished, I was almost afraid to look at the scoreboard. But when I saw my name at the top I was like, oh my god! I couldn’t believe it!”



By Rani Henderson - West Hawaii Today

Just three months ago, Steve Borowski could barely swim one length of the 25-yard lane at the Kona Community Aquatic Center swimming pool.

It was a surreal moment and one hard to imagine for the legendary aquatic coach and Hawaii Waterman Hall of Famer, who began his career earning All-American honors in swimming and water polo, followed by four decades coaching thousands of athletes to excel in the pool and ocean.

While not having the strength and stamina to swim such a short distance may have deterred most athletes from returning to the pool, it was quite the contrary for Borowski. He was motivated more than ever and for a good reason.

Borowski — who decided to step back in January as head coach of the Kona Aquatic age group and Kealakehe High School swim teams — shared that he had quietly faced a few physical challenges during the first three months of the year that became tough mentally and emotionally to deal with.

“I noticed that I had a tremor in my hand around the first of the year, about the time that I stopped coaching age group,” the 69-year old Holualoa resident said. “After I did a lot of research online, I read that I had all of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. It was super scary as I read there is no cure, and basically, you are going to die slowly and it’s really bad. So you can imagine what that did to me mentally.”

During those first three months, Borowski said that he saw two doctors and again, everything pointed to Parkinson’s. While he was finally able to get an appointment to see a neurologist on Oahu, the waitlist was six-months out.

“January, February and March was hell mentally,” he said. “I finally semi-retired and then I was faced with having to figure out the rest of my life — who’s going to care for me, what’s going to happen, just everything. I was seriously depressed and it was such a tough time. There were all of those psychological variables that played into the physical side of things.”

And during those distressing months, Borowski said that he had his third surgery completed — two knees and an elbow — all done within six-months of one another to repair his meniscus and other soft tissue tears. There was never a time when Borowski felt so low.

But that was until he received a phone call from the neurologist for an earlier opening in their schedule, an appointment he booked immediately.

“I finally get to see this neurologist in March and after he does all of these tests on me he says; ‘You don’t have Parkinson’s. Your father had the same thing and your symptoms mimic Parkinson’s to a ‘T’, but you have something called an essential tremor.’”

An essential tremor affects the nervous system and causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It can affect almost any part of your body, but the trembling occurs most often in your hands, especially when attempting to do simple tasks such as writing, drinking from a glass, or tying shoelaces. While it can occur at any age, and can range from mild to severe, it is most common in people ages 40 and over.

“I’ve had light shakes for awhile now but it’s gotten a little worse,” Borowski said. “So when he told me that I didn’t have Parkinson’s it was such a huge relief. I was like, oh my God, this is just unbelievable! In that moment, my life turned around. I felt like I was given another chance.”

While Borowski had already planned on attending the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championships held Aug. 2-6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to help coach a friend who was competing, his renewed sense to live life to the fullest gave him the confidence to enter the event himself.

“I made the decision to go after I found out that I didn’t have Parkinson’s,” Borowski said. “I said; ‘Why not? Who cares, I should just go and have fun!’ When I started training for this three months ago, I couldn’t even kick when doing butterfly or do flip-turns. I still had a whole bunch of stuff going on with my knees and elbow. And I’m still not a 100-percent.”

Yet slowly but surely, Borowski found his way back into the lanes that earned him All American honors during his teenage and collegiate years, to setting the world, national and state records in the 50-meter freestyle and 50-meter butterfly as a 50-year-old.

Borowski did it again at age 55, setting world, national and state records in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle, and the 50-meter and 100-meter butterfly events, but that would become the last time that Borowski was in the pool.

Now, 15 years later and on a scant three months of actual swim training, Borowski plans to compete in three long course events at the USMS Summer National Championships in the men’s 70-74 age division: 50-meter freestyle, 50-meter butterfly and 100-meter freestyle.

“I’ve been lifting weights a lot because I know that I’m not going to get my aerobic base to where I want it to be, but I could build upon my strength,” he said. “But I have to be really careful with my rehab while I’m strength training. I’m in the gym at least 4-5 times per week, and almost everyday in the pool. I usually do about 3000 meters in the pool that is blended between free, fly, and varying intensities. I also train by myself so it’s been tough. And with the increase in exercise, I’ve lost 22-pounds but I feel great.

Borowski says that there will be over 1000 athletes at the swim meet competing in varying age groups with of course, high caliber competition coming from the men’s 70-74 age group.

“There’s a guy in my age group that won all four events in May - Andrew McPherson - he’s going to be there,” he said. “Looking at his times and looking where I am at now, I’m kind of doubtful that I’ll be able to beat him. And while there’s been so many challenges just to get here, it’s been really good. I’m going in with a whole different mindset.”

Borowski’s first competition at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center’s 50-meter indoor pool is the 100-meter freestyle scheduled for today at 12:55 p.m. He will continue with the 50-meter butterfly on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. followed by the 50-meter freestyle at 12:45 p.m.

While Borowski plans to just have fun and enjoy his renewed zest for competition, for those who don’t think they can be competitive at an older age, the legendary Aquatic King has some sound advice.

“Being competitive to me means focusing on self and not others and all the other outside variables that come along with a major competition. It’s okay to be nervous. I call it excited. The journey is 90 percent.”



Pone paddle boarding is an excellent way to stay fit during the offseason!



This is the time to step back from your rigorous training and do other things. Swimmers are more than welcome to hop in the pool a few times to keep the feel for the water, but don’t hit the pool every day. Instead, use this opportunity to travel, hang out with friends and family, and explore other hobbies.  As significant a part of your life as swimming is, leading a balanced lifestyle will help you maintain a good perspective and keep you from mentally burning out. Additionally, swimming less during this period will help your body repair chronic injuries that built up during training this year.


Every year, there seems to be one athlete who got too excited with cross training and returned to pre-season already injured. Don’t be that person. Take advantage of the sports and activities around you rather than sitting on the couch all break, but be smart about the movements you engage in. For example, running all break when you normally never run could lead to injury because your body is less used to high-impact cardio exercise. Instead, opt for a variety of activities that are both fun and social. Go surfing, hiking and mountain biking. Try stand-up paddle boarding, or one-man canoe paddling if it is available to you. Play sports with friends. Maintaining your fitness this way can be easy and fun instead of seeming like a chore.


Getting back into training in a few weeks will be a much easier transition if you maintain your baseline level of strength. This does not require much investment on your part during your break either. You can do a 30-45 min weight room session a few times per week, or if you do not lift weights yet, you can get in a few sets of pull-ups, push ups, and squats every other day. This will not only maintain your muscle tissue, but it will also keep your body used to the pattern of movements you normally engage in for dryland. You’ll stay fitter during your break and feel better when training starts back up.

Keep these tips in mind for the next couple of weeks, and enjoy your well-deserved break!

Off-Season Nutrition Tips


Off-Season Nutrition Tips - By Jill Castle, MS, RDN

When the swim season is over, swimmers often wonder if they should change their eating habits. Should they continue to focus on the training diet? Should they eat as frequently as they have been or should they taper eating to reflect a decrease in exercise? Are there foods they can eat to preserve their physique?

When the swimming season ends, eating patterns need to shift to accommodate the decreased demand for energy and nutrients. The goals for eating during the off-season include maintaining a healthy weight, keeping the muscle tone and mass that has been accumulated during the season, and matching nutritional requirements for continued growth and development.

Off-season eating may not be easy for some swimmers, as the habit (and perhaps enjoyment) of eating large portions, pre-training snacks and post-training recovery foods may have become ingrained, making them challenging to reverse.

I like to remind athletes of the difference between a training diet and a regular healthy approach to eating. The training diet not only includes foods that help the athlete meet the demands of exercise and improve performance, it also is a mindset and strategy for getting the most out of the season. The swimmer can think about the off-season diet in this same framework: a focus on nutritious foods that match needs for growth and maximizes health.

One mistake I see young athletes make, in general, is failing to adjust their eating patterns after the season has ended.

I’ve got some quick tips to help swimmers accommodate the changes in training that naturally occur in the off-season phase.

Reduce Calories

It’s no surprise swimmers burn a lot of calories in the pool during the competitive season. As such, the young swimmer especially needs to maintain a calorie intake that covers the demands of swimming and his nutritional requirements for growth and development.

In the teen swimmer, calorie requirements can be as high as 4,000 calories per day (or more), depending on age, gender and training schedule. However, when swim season ends and training tapers off significantly, such a high calorie intake isn’t necessary.

There are a few easy ways to taper caloric intake with a non-dieting approach. One is by reducing the portion size of the hefty pre-training snack. Most growing athletes, even if they aren’t actively training, will need a nutritious afternoon snack to meet daily nutritional requirements and help with appetite management. However, if the swimmer