The Uluniu Swimming Club was founded on March 11, 1909 as the Women’s Auxiliary of the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki, located in a grove of 10,000 coconut trees called Helumoa. The name Uluniu means “Many Coconuts.”
The Women’s Auxiliary provided women and girls a recreational environment away from the men’s club. Dues were $5 and chaperones were provided after 2 pm.
In 1914 the Uluniu was the first women’s club to be affiliated with the Amateur Athletic Union when Ellen Fullard-Leo became the first woman member of the AAU. The Uluniu was asked to design “sensible bathing costumes” for women. These bathing suits not only were used in Hawaii, they became the standard for all National AAU competition.
A decade later, it sent member Mariechen Wehselau to Paris to participate in the 1924 Olympic Games. There she won a silver for the Women’s 100 meter free-style and swam anchor on the US Women’s 4×100 free Relay team, winning Gold. Ellen Fullard-Leo accompanied the team to Paris.
These two members are in the Hawaii State Sports Hall of Fame, located at the Bishop Museum.
In 1925, the Club separated from the OCC and became the Uluniu Women’s Swimming Club. Its popularity was such that, over the years, it had to limit membership to 600 and provide a variety of membership types. Male spouses were accepted as non-voting members.
The founding president of the OCC said that “the Women’s Auxiliary…have made the beach at Waikiki not only safe for everyone, but have given it a tone and character that has been of inestimable benefit and value to both organizations . Your support of water sports has enabled our women to make swimming records the world over.”
During this era the Club sponsored early swimming programs and organized meets and competitions. Its trophies were sought competitively by local high schools. The trophy known as the Swanzy Cup, named for Julie Judd Swanzy, the first president, was given to individuals. It unfortunately was stolen many years ago and never recovered. The trophy known as the Uluniu Bowl was awarded to teams, and was won so many times by the Punahou School team, that the Club has given it on permanent loan to the Punahou School, where they use it as a silver punch bowl during receptions.
In 1965 the Club changed its name for the third time to the Uluniu Swimming Club, and admitted men as voting members. This was in preparation for the loss of the Waikiki lease, when both the OCC and the Uluniu had to leave their Waikiki properties, where the Sheraton Hotel now stands. Membership was reduced from 600 to 60 as many members left to move with the OCC to their Diamond Head site.
Uluniu purchased the present clubhouse property, Kaiwao (inland from the sea) in the early 1970s and changed the focus of the Club from day use, to a facility that provides reserved day or overnight accommodations, and a place to swim or rest on trips around the island of Oahu.
Recognition should go to the then Club President, the late Margaret Camp, and her dedicated Board of Directors who helped the Club during that transition time. To leave the familiar Waikiki of the 1960s, to move to the country, was a difficult decision, now one that we can truly appreciate in the 2000s.
The Club still encourages swimming and other water sports. Many of our members have competed at one time, and some still enter water sport events. We provide recreation facilities to members and guests to enjoy the beach and the quiet countryside, with no high rises. The Club sponsors community organizations annually.
The property lies between Kamehameha Highway and Laniloa Bay, just before Laniloa (Laie) Point, .5 miles North, after the Polynesian Cultural Center. The Club house is a large frame building capable of sleeping ten people. It as two bedrooms, two and a half baths, large contiguous living and dining areas and a covered lanai where members enjoy eating outdoors. Members and their guests may arrange to sleep-over and enjoy the pleasant location for the day or for up to five nights. Also on the property is a caretaker’s cottage and a separate annex building with a day house, lockers and bathroom with a hot shower.
The Club overlooks a large coconut palm-lined (not quite 10,000!) well kept lawn which extends to the beach front. The house and grounds have accommodated the Club on two occasions with a large luau complete with imu, and a tent for food and entertainment.
The Club maintains its clublike atmosphere by making the Club available to all members during the day, and the Clubhouse provides exclusive accommodations from 12 noon to noon for the member with overnight reservations. With no telephone, no radio, no television, members have come to appreciate the joy of reading and napping and walking on the beach, and playing with children and grandchildren. The lawn can accomodate soccer, volleyball, and croquet games with lots of shady areas and nooks for tents and privacy.
Kaiwao is a restful spot away from the urban congestion of Honolulu.
Kaiwao July 26, 2012