Punahou was honored to have the USA Swimming team training at Punahou ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. The team of about 50 athletes has been at Punahou, ‘Iolani and UH for a two-week training camp to acclimate to the time zone and make final preparations before they leave for Japan on Monday.
Having the Olympians on campus has been an exciting opportunity for Punahou, said President Mike Latham ’86. “They are a manifestation of the very best that all of us hope for. We’re so excited about the example and the inspiration that they set for all of us.”
On Thursday, students, special guests and local media had the opportunity to experience a practice session and see the athletes in action at Punahou’s C. Dudley Pratt Aquatic Center and Waterhouse Pool. Since Japan recently announced a ban on spectators at the Olympics due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the gathering of nearly 300 fans at Punahou will be the largest audience for the athletes.
“We really want you to bring us some energy,” said men’s team captain Ryan Murphy to encourage the spectators to cheer on the team. “We’re going to go over there and try to win some hardware.”
The Punahou fans did not disappoint, with loud cheers of “U-S-A, U-S-A” as athletes, such as Michael Andrew, got in their final practices ahead of the Summer games. “I would not have been able to do that without you,” Andrew told the audience after a hard set.
Students, including Punahou’s own swimmers, also had the chance to ask gold medalists Lily King and Caeleb Dressel questions about the sport, such as what their schedule is like and what foods they fuel up on.
The team took their official photo on the steps of the Chapel, adding to Punahou’s legacy of hosting Olympians. In 1988, swimmers trained at Punahou before the Seoul games.