On Sunday, Aug. 19, swimmers ages 12 and up will hit the water for a good cause during the third annual Sophie Swim, a 2K open water race from Kaanapali’s Kahekili Beach Park to Black Rock and back. Now in its third year, the event—the only one of its kind on Maui—will raise funds for the Sophie DeLoria Foundation, which supports local organizations that focus on swimming, dance and music. The foundation was established by Sue DeLoria of KW Island Living and her husband, JD, in memory of their daughter, Sophie, who lost her life in a tragic accident at the age of 8.
So far this year, the Sophie DeLoria Foundation has donated to the Lahaina Swim Club, Maui Music Mission, Lahaina Arts Society, Maui Academy of Performing Arts, Maui OnStage at the Historic Iao Theater, West Maui Boys & Girls Club, Friends of Lahainaluna High School Music, Lahaina Canoe Club and Holy Innocents Preschool. The foundation also awarded scholarships to two Lahainaluna High School graduates, Mihana Ho and Eva Olson, both student-athletes heading off to college in the fall.
The Sophie Swim is the foundation’s major fundraiser and DeLoria says it is the perfect way to honor her daughter’s memory. “Sophie above all else liked to include everybody, whether it was games she organized in the schoolyard or having friends over for sleepovers. She also loved to swim and loved to race in swim meets. [Lahaina Swim Club] Coach Tom nicknamed her ‘NBS,’ ‘Nobody Beats Sophie,’ after one epic swim practice, and Coach Jen called Sophie our ‘Go Get ‘Em Girl,’” she explained. “We were able to give her lots of opportunities: swim club, ballet, ProArts theatre and going to the Iao Theater or the MACC. It seemed only natural to help other kids have those same opportunities. It’s something I know Sophie would have loved—and would have wanted us to do.”
DeLoria came up with the idea for the event three years ago while swimming with a friend in the waters off Kahekili Beach Park. That day, she spotted a group of kids—members of the Lahaina Swim Club—racing toward Black Rock. “They flew past us,” she recalled. “The coach had given them a break from pool training. They were having a lot of fun. That’s when I thought, ‘this is a good idea.’” A few weeks later, after a flurry of phone calls and emails, the inaugural Sophie Swim made its debut with more than 140 participants.
DeLoria credits the success of the annual Sophie Swim to those who volunteer each year—on and off the water—as well as the many businesses that donate gift certificates, activities and merchandise. “Every year, I am reminded of how generous people are,” she said.
And DeLoria says this year’s Sophie Swim is guaranteed to bring out the competitive spirit. “We have a good rivalry between two of our youth swimmers who have competed in the previous two events, so we are looking forward to that race,” she said. “And for our more mature age groups, there are some pretty competitive swimmers and some new entrants from the mainland that I am looking forward to meeting.”
Registration is now underway. There are 40 divisions for competitors ages 12 and up; awards will be given to the winners and runners-up of each division. Race day registration starts at 7 a.m. at the Kahekili Beach Park pavilion. The youth race for swimmers ages 12 to 17 begins at 8 a.m., followed by the adult race at 8:15 a.m. Swim caps are mandatory (and will be provided).
Kahekili Beach Park is privately owned and maintained by the Kaanapali North Beach Masters Association at their sole expense. This beach park property and its facilities are made available to the public for primarily casual park uses and beach access; subject to signage at the park which clearly states rules and regulations for use and enjoyment of the facilities during posted hours only and strictly prohibiting commercial uses.
“Definitely come and race—or come as a spectator. It’s a fun event for the whole family,” DeLoria said. “We hope to see you in the water!”
To register, visit www.flpregister.com/333. To receive updates and to view photos and videos of past events, “like” the Sophie Swim Facebook page at www.facebook.com/theSophieSwim. To inquire about donor or sponsorship opportunities, contact DeLoria at 250-5948 or sue@sophieDeLoria.org. For more information about the Sophie DeLoria Foundation, visit www.sophieDeLoria.org.
By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – July 7, 2018