The Three-Year Swim Club by Julie Checkoway

The Three-Year Swim Club

Julie Checkoway

November 2015


The inspirational story of a group of impoverished children who were transformed into champion swimmers.

In 1937 an ordinary school teacher on the island of Maui took a group of under privileged children, most of Japanese ancestry, and trained them to become Olympic swimmers. He called his plan the 'Three-Year Swim Club' and he succeeded in producing true American heroes whose story has never been told.

None of the barefoot children had ever laid eyes on a pool. Their only experience in water was playing naked in the filthy irrigation ditches that snaked down from the mountains and into the sugar cane fields. And the coach knew nothing about coaching and couldn't swim a lap to save his life. But, against all odds, and during a period of history marked by virulent racism and the Second World War, the children embarked on an unlikely path that led them to become celebrated swimmers from LA to London, and real-life American heroes.

About the author

Julie Checkoway is an author and documentary filmmaker. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts individual artist grant and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salt Lake Tribune and Huffington Post.

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