War disrupted swimmer's Olympic bid


POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

WAILUKU » Fujiko Matsui made a big splash at age 14 at the 1939 AAU competitions, under the tutelage of the legendary coach Soichi Sakamoto.



And about a year later, she qualified to compete in the Olympics.

Matsui, 84, died Wednesday at her residence on Maui.

Matsui, born Fujiko Katsutani in Wailuku, was 14 when she won the national AAU title in the 200-meter breaststroke in 1939, becoming one of the youngest winners in the competition.

She won the same title in 1940.

By winning the AAU Nationals, Matsui qualified to represent the United States in the Olympics but never participated because World War II forced the games to be called off.

In an interview, Matsui said she was disappointed with the cancellation of the Olympics and recalled the hard work involved in training under Sakamoto.

She and other swimmers practiced daily after school until 9:30 p.m.

In the summers, practice started at 5:30 a.m. and went into the night.

“;He told us not to come if we came later than that and not to come anymore,”; recalled Matsui. “;He was strict.”;

She was later inducted into the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame.

Visitation begins at 4 p.m. Friday at Door of Faith Church in Wailuku, with a service at 5 p.m.

Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Maui Memorial Park. The family requests no flowers and casual aloha attire. Nakamura Mortuary assisted with the arrangements.

She is survived by son Lee Matsui; daughter Colleen Chang; sisters Peggy Sugahara, Amy Kurahara and Kikue Yokouchi; brother Akitoshi Katsutani; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.