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Diving Club Returns to Kawamoto Pool in Hilo

February 2, 2021, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated February 1, 8:13 PM
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After a COVID-induced hiatus, the Hilo HI-Diving club is returning to the Charles “Sparky” Kawamoto Pool in Hilo with limited hours.

“We’re very grateful to have the opportunity to return,” said DJ Freedman, head coach and club founder. “As interest grows, we hope to return to a more regular schedule.”

Freedman has been coaching for more than five years, relocating to Hawai‘i from the University of Southern California where he dove at the Masters and trained as a diving coach. Before moving to Hilo, he was also a volunteer diving coordinator at the Rio Olympics.

Freedman introduced the Hilo HI-Diving club in 2018. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced most public pools to close or reduce hours, he was forced to put the diving sessions on pause. Now that pool hours and availability are opening up, Freedman hopes to increase from the current one-day per week schedule. He’s also hopeful people all ages and abilities will attend to learn more about becoming a platform and springboard diver.

“The great thing about diving is that you can take it up at any age,” Freedman said. “But you have to commit to it to really improve. It requires a huge amount of concentration.”

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Freedman and Hilo HI-Diving are also joined by assistant coach Taryn Oda, a graduate from Hilo High School. Freedman calls Oda one of his best divers and an asset to the club.

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Both Oda and Freedman are excited for the future of the club and the Kawamoto Pool, as they look to upgrade the facilities by adding a diving board and repairing the current staircase to the tower where platform diving can begin.

In order to offer accessibility to new and former members alike, participation in the Hilo HI-Diving club is free through the month February. When the club does start collecting fees again, USC, Freedman’s alma mater, will provide scholarships for financially-challenged athletes high school age or younger.

The diving club at Kawamoto Pool is currently the only one of its kind on the Big Island, operating Fridays from 1–4 pm. It is open to all ages and levels. For more information, email dj@hilohidiving.org.

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