Aulea Makes A Splash At Zones

For nearly 60 years, the name “Aulea” has been synonymous with greatness and success in local swimming. The windward Oahu swim club has produced dozens of world-class swimmers since it was founded in 1955, and its reputation is as strong as ever.

Three swimmers from Team Aulea recently returned home from the “zones” at Colorado Mesa University, in Grand Union, Colo. Aspen Krieger, Nick Pederson and Nicholas Zachmeier were part of a Hawaii contingency that represented the state in the Aug. 7-11 competition.

Swimmers will tell you, qualifying for the zones is a big deal.

“I’ve been swimming nearly all my life and I finally made it!” says an excited Nick Zachmeier, who has been swimming competitively since the first grade. “If you do well (at the zones), you know you’ve accomplishment something pretty special.”

Zachmeier, a junior at Le Jardin Academy, qualified in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events.

(from left) Nicholas Zachmeier, Aspen Krieger and Nick Pederson. Elizabeth Zachmeier photo.

“I did pretty good; I finished sixth in the 50m free and there were at least 60 swimmers who qualified,” says Zachmeier, who hopes to compete in college one day. “Then in our relays we came in third, and I swam the last leg. Our relay team was made up of other Hawaii swimmers from other clubs.

It felt great representing the state!”

Pederson echoed the feeling of pride and laughs about some of their memorable moments.

“It was really cool because, for some reason, some people thought we were from Europe,” chuckles Pederson. “When we told them we were from Hawaii, they asked, ‘You came all the way to Colorado for a swim meet?’ Then at the meet, all the Hawaii swimmers did our Hawaiian cheer and all the other swimmers thought it was really cool.”

Pederson is a sophomore at Le Jardin Academy. He qualified for five events, including the 1,500-, 200-and 100-meter freestyle events and the 200- and 100-meter butterfly events.

“I did really well on my 200m free; I got a 12th,” says Pederson, who has been swimming competitively for 10 years, the last four with Aulea. “I was ranked a lot lower than 12, so to finish as well as I did and to put up a personal best time was pretty exciting!”

Krieger is the youngest of the trio at 13. She’s been swimming for 10 years, the last four with Aulea. Krieger qualified for four events: the 200-meter individual medley, 100- and 50-meter butterfly, and the 100-meter breaststroke.

“It was really fun and a whole new experience for me because of the competition level up there,” says the homeschooled eighth-grader. “It was an honor to represent my state and my team, and I did well finishing sixth in the 100m fly and seventh in the 200m IM.”

Aulea’s rich history dates back to 1955, when former Farrington coach Al Minn started the club and became the first head coach. The well-respected Minn wanted a special name for his new club, so he went to Hawaiian language expert Mary Kawena Pukui, who suggested the name Aulea, which means “swimming together harmoniously.”

“The older swimmers are a pretty tight group and we’re all pretty close,” says Zachmeier. “We know about this club’s history.”

“It’s a great program and it’s not overly huge, so there is a real sense of community,” says Pederson. “Everybody knows everyone and helps each other. I’m glad to be a part of it.”

The name still has special meaning today.