Follow Your Dreams
One never knows where opportunity crosses your path and came from following my dreams, great coaching, competitors, friends, and family … I think I learned how to stay out of judgement and in curiosity as I grew up with a humble start in Kahului, Maui and traveling from the slowest pool to the fastest pool in the world.
Growing up on Kahului Harbor in the 50’s provided me a great water experience with the ocean at our doorstep with fishing, surfing, diving and swimming. A couple tsunamis were a bit unnerving as we evacuated one evening from what is now canoe storage to see Puunene Ave waist deep in water rushing in like a river..I even rode a train to Haiku from Kahului. My first swimming coach was Benny Castor in Puunene where we heard his stories of swimming upstream in the irrigation ditches for workout and we were lucky to have a pool although there were no gutters so it was bouncy. There were two pools in Puunene and one near Kanaha that we called Naska…and now only the Kahului pool remains. I remember Benny’s dedication and sense of humor when he once asked me if I brought a lantern in on that last repeat as it had taken so long to complete.
At Hawaii Prep Academy coach Gerry Damon made a makeshift pool in the ocean at Kawaihae Harbor on the Big Island with 60 gallon drums, plywood and telephone poles. The pool was constructed and moored in the Harbor and I used to sneak out of school at 4 am with coach Damon who parked the car with the motor running and lights on one end of the pool. I would light a lantern and hang it on the other end to see the turns. I swam alone in the early morning and one day I had too many box jellyfish stings to continue. Of course, picking up lobsters out of the pool was a special event.
It was during a 50 day swim trip with coach Souichi Sakamoto to the mainland one summer at the age of 16 where I met Mark Spitz who encouraged me to come and swim in Santa Clara. Our trip from SF to NY and back to LA was by greyhound bus and cost $99 for as many stops in 50 days while we stopped for swim meets and stayed with swimming families.
I left HPA for the summer before my senior year upon the encouragement of coach Damon who said that if I swam my senior year with Spitz, that I would go to a better college than if I stayed and got straight “A”s at HPA. We only had trained 3 months a year in Hawaii and it was now meant starting double workouts at Santa Clara 6 days a week year round with the best of the best. The workouts totalled about 5,000 to 6,000 meters a day in short interval training with 4 large poolside clocks on the four corners of the pool so you knew every split. The pool was 50 meters long and we split the team to each end and started both ends with the fastest first with 5 seconds between each person swiming to the right side of each lane. Every repeat was by the clock A typical workout might be 4 x 400 meters (30 sec rest), 8 x 200 meters (15 sec rest), 16 x 50 meters (10 seconds rest), This was the first of two workouts each summer day and I was so tired having come from a 6 months layoff while watching my teammates set world records in workout. It was awe inspiring.
We moved to our 25 yard pool during the swim season at Santa Clara High School coached by George Haines and our high school team was truly remarkable with incredible depth and talent. By the end of my senior year this high school team owned 9 of 11 national high school records. One day we were doing 40 X 100 yard repeats with 15 seconds rest and I swam next to 16 year old Mark Spitz the number one high school swimmer in the US who could negative split which means he swam the second 50 faster than the first. I judged how well I was doing by how large the bubbles were next to me as he swam at least two body lengths faster than I could for the each first 20 repeats.
I decided to swim the next 20 repeats with Mitch Ivey, the number one high school backstroker in the nation. Again, I was in his bubbles and after the first set of 10 repeats we had a 5 minute rest where Mitch remarked “You have the worst backstroke that I have ever seen…you are bobbing and weaving and hitting the lane lines” I clenched my fist underwater and took several deep breaths to keep my composure and replied “Mitch, you have the prettiest backstroke that I have ever seen and what do I have to do to look like you?” He said to get out of the pool and he would show me.
Mitch bunched up a towel and instructed me to throw it down at the pool deck to show my stroke to him. Standing there, I raised the towel and threw it down to the deck landing the towel 6 feet to the side of my stance. He said the proper stroke was to land the towel next to the baby toe so it took a lot of upper body twist to put one shoulder over my nose while my stoke elbow would tuck well behind my back with the wrist just clearing or grazing the hip. I had been swimming with a flat body and straight arm stoke which was inefficient.
We jumped back in the pool for the last 10 repeats and I stood up after the first one and watched Mitch finish. I did it again and again going about 5 seconds faster than my last set of 10 beating Mitch each repeat. Frustrated with my instant success, Mitch challenged me to race the 40th repeat and I swam my fastest time ever beating him to the wall again. The coach, George Haines put us together the next weekend where I beat Mitch in dual meet setting the high school 100 yard backstroke record at 54 seconds (I was second to Aaron Picadura in Hawaii at 57.4 seconds the year before). So coach Haines had a meeting with me to tell me that he was going to take me to the indoor nationals in two weeks with Spitz.
A few days before the nationals, I had dinner with the Spitz family where Mark and his dad were talking for an hour about winning 6 events but could only enter 3 and I was just thinking how lucky I was to be here with my idol and experiencing this moment and what would my friends back in Hawaii think? Arnold, Mark’s dad leaned across that table and finally asked me how I was going to do. I said that my recent time had placed me in 9th in the nation but if I could swim a half a second faster, maybe I could get a 3rd place.. Arnold said he didn’t understand what I was saying so I repeated myself. He replied that he still did not understand so I explained in more detail for the 3rd time. Arnold raised his voice to me at said, “There is no such thing as 2nd through 6th place and that there is only one winnner in the pool and all the rest are losers”. He raised his fist and slammed it down on the dinner table shaking silverware and plates and screamed “AND DON”T YOU EVER FORGET THAT!!!” I melted in my seat as my own dad would have been thrilled with whatever the outcom.
Oh well, from my humble beginnings, I thought I was being head strong for saying that I could possibly get a 3rd place…Boy, had I underestimated Mr. Spitz and I was in a daze for 3 days with all this information. First the stroke tip with Mitch Ivey, then the emotional schooling with Mr. Spitz who helped me believe I could win. A few days later I awakened from a dream that I had just won the 100 yard backstroke in the nationals that I was about to attend.
Fortunately, I won the 100 yard backstroke in the Indoor Nationals that next week with a time of 52.6 and within the next 2 weeks I had 25 scholarship offers to attend colleges wherever I wanted to attend. Since Stanford wanted a financial statement, Dad said that his financials were none of their business and said that he would pay for it and to let the scholarship go to someone who needed it as he was proud to pay for me. I attended Stanford and won 3 more NCAA titles and after graduating as team captain of Stanford swimming and a BA in Economics. Some of the greatest swimming tips came from Don Scholander who said to swim freestyle with a very high elbow and from Mark Spitz who said that you want to lead your freestyle stroke with your index finger pulling towards your belly button. If you put those two together…who knows what might happen.
I sold real estate for 8 years all over the island until my closest brother Jim died in a traffic accident and I decided a fun change was in the works as Jim would also have approved. I opened Sailboards Maui in 1980 where Jim and I had lived (where the new Mercedes dealership is located) where along with Mike Waltze, Bill King and Jimmy Lewis we helped the pioneering of windsurfing with other Maui and international friends and started the first windsurfing waveriding and racing contests on the island. I felt that I could either make this business work or I could find a windsurfing sponsorship along the way. It felt like we were pioneering the sport and one day Mike Waltze put footstraps and a sail and rode all my small surfboards. This was incredible as we had started the sport riding big plastic 12 foot boards and now we were making our own wave boards with Jimmy Lewis which we rode in the waves of Hookipa daily.
Working with Barry Spanier,Geof Borne at Maui Sails along with Demitri Milovich a carbon fiber wing mast was developed and equiped with the latest sails. I found sponsorship with the sport’s inventor, Hoyle Schwietzer and son Matt Schweitzer and then with Neil Pryde Sails who developed the wing mast. I entered a speed contest in 1983 in Weymouth England where I broke the world speed record with this Maui Sail and board built by Jimmy Lewis at Sailboards Maui. This opened another sporting career with sponsorship to travel to speed events and trade shows and give talks around the world for the next 8 years.
I returned to the real estate world in 1990 here on Maui and since have opened my own company, Fred Haywood Realty where we market and sell property across Maui. Although property sales are currently slow across the nation, I continue working as a national real estate speaker and trainer where I have applied the same work habits and moral ethics I learned from these coaches, friends and family that have inspired me in following my dreams…