Hawaiian Channel Swimming Association

Documenting the Legacy of Hawaiian Channel Swimming with Worldclass Standards

Established 1984

The Hawaiian Channel Swimming Association (HCSA) is a volunteer-run channel swimming governing body formed in 1984 by Carol Lee Heltzel.  The HCSA was established to recognize individuals who have successfully swum across the 9 major inter-island channels of the Hawaiian Islands. Its membership includes everyone who has swum at least one channel in Hawaiʻi.  The HCSA is the oldest and most comprehensive governing body for channel swims in Hawaiʻi and has been serving an international open water swimming community for over 40 years.  There are 9 main channels in the Hawaiian Islands that individuals attempt to swim: Kaiwi Channel (or Moloka'i Channel), ʻAuʻau Channel (or the Maui Channel), Kalohi Channel, Alalakeiki Channel, Pailolo Channel, ʻAlenuihāhā Channel, Kaulakahi Channel, Kealaikahiki Channel and the Kaiʻeiʻewaho Channel.

Carl Kawauchi (left)- HCSA Recorder/Honorary Secretary (1986-2023), HCSA Advisory Board Member, ex officio (2024-present), Hawaiʻi Swimming Hall of Fame Inductee, Channel Swimming (2005)

News Flash:  Hawaiianchannelswim.org surpasses 1200 views from all over the world in its first 3 months.

The rules of the Hawaiian Channel Swimming Association are based on the rules that govern the English Channel.  HCSA has an internationally acclaimed advisory board (see 'About') and other ad hoc committees that address protests, rule interpretations and rule-making issues whose members are HCSA members.  Its current Recorder/Honorary Secretary Steven Minaglia possesses an official HCSA Observer's Log and list of local escort boat pilots and boats that have been used in channel crossings.  In order for a swim to be registered, recognized and certified by the HCSA, an Observer's Log is required with the Observer's signature, date, start time and end time, the start location and end location, boat name and skipper name, and swim data.  All published HCSA rules listed below must be followed and the approved certification form must be utilized when communicating the success of the swim.   Swimmers must swim at their own risk.  Do not attempt any channel crossing without safety support and be sure to follow all local, cultural, state, and federal regulations.  HCSA does not organize and/or observe channel swims.  The potential display of boat captain information is strictly for historical purposes and is not intended to endorse and/or approve services rendered by any boat captain.  There is no fee for certification or record-keeping purposes in the volunteer-run organization.

The HCSA swims are posted by Steven Minaglia on the hawaiianchannelswim.org website and by Keith Arakaki on the www.hawaiiswim.org website with documentation archived by Steven Minaglia. The organization has been directed by Carol Lee Heltzel, Jim Anderson, and Carl Kawauchi and is currently directed by Steven Minaglia.  Prior to 1984, there were not many inter-island channel swims. These few swims were substantiated with local newspaper articles, conversations and recollections with other swimmers and escorts.  There were two uncertified swims that are recognized: Bill Pai's Molokaʻi Channel swim from Molokaʻi to Oahu in 1939, long before there was an organization or rules. And Bill Lawrence and Solomon Fernandez's Alalakeiki Channel crossing from Kahoʻolawe to Maui. These two swimmers were protesters on the island of Kahoʻolawe illegally. They escaped capture by the United States Navy by swimming across the channel. The story of their escape was obtained from news articles and there is no certification documentation for their swim. The organization is considering decertifying swims to/from Kahoʻolawe after 1994.

Currently swimmers are not allowed to touch land on Kahoʻolawe and therefore crossing the Alalakeiki and Kealaikahiki channels is prohibited.  New in 2024, HCSA has decided to certify and recognize the following swims as substitutes for these two channels: The Maui-Around Molokini-Maui Swim and the Molokini to Lānaʻi Swim (Molokini Kealaikahiki Channel Swim).  Addition of these two swims, comparable to the above two prohibited channels gives swimmers a chance to achieve the 9 major inter-island channels.  A 2020 article written by Steven Minaglia and published by Steven Munatones that details these two new swims can be found here:

https://www.openwaterswimming.com/swim-alternatives-to-cross-kealaikahiki-channel-and-alalakeiki-channel-in-hawaii/

CHANNEL CROSSING RULES

HCSA reserves the right to intrepret prior swims in context of past rules in effect.  These rules are subject to change without notice.  Rules posted at hawaiianchannelswim.org are to be considered active and the most up to date rules furnished by HCSA.  The revised 2024 certification form must be requested from: hichannelswim@gmail.com

Updated 1/14/2024

1. You will need an escort boat, and a support person on board to give you aid and information during the swim. Please check with boat captains regarding costs as they will vary by channel.

2. Rules are simple, swim from shore to shore, start on land with no body of water behind, and end on land with no body of water beyond. You cannot start on a jetty or end on a jetty.

3. No swim aids other than goggles are allowed, no flotation device or propulsive assistance.  

4. This means you cannot touch the boat or anything attached to the boat during the swim.

5. One textile swimsuit in one or two pieces that does not extend past the knees or the shoulders is permitted with goggles and one swim cap only. Nose clips and earplugs are allowed. 

5. Using HCSA's certification form (request at hichannelswim@gmail.com), provide written documentation that certifies the above, signed by an Observer on the boat or other escort vehicle.  Indicate the date, start time and end time, the start location and end location, boat name and skipper name, and swim data as indicated on the form. The certifier’s email address and phone number should also be included. 

6. Swimmers and crew must make every effort to avoid harming wildlife and to avoid leaving any debris in the water or on the beaches.  Anyone entering the water as part of a swim is highly advised to use State of Hawaii reef-safe-sunscreen.

7. Permission is required to enter surrounding waters and land on Kahoʻolawe Island. If you land on Niʻihau Island, you can only touch land up to the high water mark, as the rest of the island is privately owned.  It is the responsibility of the swimmers and crew to follow all local, cultural, state, and federal regulations. 

Observer- an individual that is tasked with monitoring the swimmer(s) during the swim, ensuring all rules are followed and that all swim data required in the certification form is provided.  

MULTIPLE CHANNEL CROSSING RULES

1. For multiple crossing of the same channel (e.g., double crossing) we will follow basic English Channel rules. The swim will be recorded as a multiple-crossing swim.

a. Step onto land and walk above high water mark,

b. Then immediately get back into water.

c. Can sit or stand in water up to 10 minutes.

d. Can accept food, drink, or sunscreen from support person,

e. But no one can touch swimmer.

f. After 10 minutes maximum, swimmer must resume swim back to starting island.

2. For multiple crossing of different channels (e.g., 2 different channels), follow item #1 rules. The swim will be recorded as a multiple-channel swim.

HAWAIʻIAN ISLAND CIRCUMNAVIGATION RULES

Follow HCSA’s rules, document your swim, submit your Observer's log using the approved certification form and become part of the legacy of Hawaiian Channel Swimming.

The Hawaiian Channel Swimming Association is a ratifying body recognized by the 

World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) and the Marathon Swimmers Federation (MSF).  

The Hawaiian Channel Swimming Association (HCSA)

Established 1984