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HANNULA FAMILY - FIRST IN SWIMMING, AND ALL OF SPORTS


The TAC took a look at swimming this year in its quest to find the First Family Of Sports in Tacoma and Pierce County. It turned out to be a "no-brainer".

Dick and Sylvia Hannula and a "relay team" of children -- Dan, Dave, Debbie and Dick crossed the finish line before any other candidates could even get out of the blocks. It was a tidal wave decision.

The Hannula family lives near the Titlow Pool and not too far from Wilson high school but you could rarely find any of them at home during the years when the kids were growing-up. They were all making quite a splash at their "homes away from home".

In the winter months that was Wilson, in a pool which now sports the name of Dick Hannula Pool. The Tacoma School District decided that in tribute to a coach of 32 years whose teams won an amazing 323 consecutive swim meets, including 24 consecutive boys' Washington State High School Championships.

In summer time it was Titlow where Dick founded the Tacoma Swim Club and served as its 42-year head coach from 1955 to 1997. During that stretch he coached four USA Olympic team members, five World University Games swimmers (including three gold medal winners), Pan American Games and World Championship swimmers, plus several USA National Champions and American Record holders.

Kaye Hall, the 1968 winner of two Gold Medals and a Bronze at the Olympic Games, was one of Hannula's most successful swimmers. She was a World Record Holder in the 100 meter backstroke.

It would take far more room than this printed program can allow to document Dick Hannula's many achievements and awards. In 1987 he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He also belongs to the American Swim Coaches, the National Interscholastic, the State of Washington, the Pacific Northwest, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Halls of Fame.

In 1980 he was named the National High School Swim Coach of the Year and he has coached USA National Swim Teams in international competition five times. He also was Manager of those USA teams in Pan American, Olympic and Goodwill Games.

He was Commissioner of Swimming for Seattle's Goodwill Games in 1990, President of the American Swim Coaches' Association four times, and Vice-President of the World Swimming Coaches' Association.

He has written or co-edited three books on Swimming, another 100 technical swimming articles for swim publications, and has given speeches or conducted clinics in 30 states and at five foreign swimming institutes. Mention the word Hannula around the world of swimming and you'll be making waves. Big-time! (Even in the Palouse where Dick swam for the Cougars from 1947-50 and recently became a member of the WSU Sports Hall of Fame).

Sylvia wasn't a swimmer but, once she met Dick as a student at WSU, swimming became a big part of her life. At North Kitsap high she was a catcher on the school's softball team and she later played shortstop in the local Housewive's League. Now a retired teacher, she may hold a record for attending swim meets in a lifetime. Most of it was spent cheering for her family, and there was plenty to cheer about.

Debbie was the youngest and the only daughter. She swam at Wilson high and for the Tacoma Swim Club where she qualified for five national swim meets. She took 3rd place in both the 200 and 500 freestyle events at the state high school championships before heading for college at WSU where she swam at the Intramural level. Later she swam in Masters competition and coached in the Tacoma Swim Club youth program for three years.

Now living in San Francisco (she graduated from law school at the University of San Diego after getting her B.A. from WSU), Debbie was a Judge Pro Tem for 10 years in Puget Sound country where she served on 18 professional associations. She was President of the Pierce County's Women Lawyers in 2002-3 and Vice-President of the Washington Women Lawyers Foundation from 1997 to 2005. Her judicial rating by both the King County Bar Association and the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association speaks for itself. It reads: "Exceptionally Well Qualified".

The brothers three were champions at every level. Dan was the oldest and he set the pace as a High School All-American at Wilson and a College All-American at the University of Washington. He swam at a championship level in five events at Wilson and in the 200 and 500 freestyle and the 600 relay at the UW. He was ranked 20th in the world in the 200 and 500 in 1970 and 7th and 9th in the 200 and 400 meters in '71. He also was the Canadian National Champion in the 100 meter freestyle in 1970.

Dan took his swimming excellence to water polo at both Wilson and Washington. He was given the outstanding player award at the state tournament when Wilson won the 1969 title for a second straight year and he starred for the Huskies in both '70 and '71. Now a trial lawyer in Tacoma with the law firm of Rush, Hannula, Harkins and Kyler, Dan has fond memories of his time with the Tacoma Swim Club (1957-75) and many championships along the way. One of his prouder accomplishments, however, may have been an out-of-water title he won in 1978 that of Pierce County Decathlete.

Dave followed in his brother's footsteps at Wilson but chose the University of Southern California for his higher education. Now a dentist locally, his swimming career was filled with success. He was a state high school champion in the 100 back and 200 IM in both 1971 and 72, was the National AAU Champion in the 400 IM in 1975, and became a College All-America at USC from 1973-76. He was ranked as high as 3rd in the world in the 400 IM. His wins as a Trojan shall go undocumented here because of space limitations. All-America status tells it all.

Richard M. Hannula was the third of the clan to attend Wilson and the second to choose USC. He is now the principal at Covenant High School in Tacoma. Dick not only won the state championships in the 200 and 500 freestyle events, he set national high school records in both. In college he was a 4-year NCAA All-America and a member of the USC relay team which won the national title in the 600 relay and set an American record in the process. In 1977 he won the 400 free to claim a Gold Medal at the University Games and set a new world record. His world ranking was 9th in the 200 meters free.

Just imagine a family with three sons ranked in the top ten in the world during their swimming careers. You don't need to know much about the sport to totally appreciate why the Hannulas are being honored here tonight as Tacoma and Pierce County's First Family of Sports. It couldn't be more obvious.

The Hannula roots can be traced back to Finland. Grandpa came to America as a fisherman. It's ironic that there is a Finnish connection because they always seemed to be first at the finish line no matter what pool they graced. We tried to trace the language but failed to find out how Hannula would be spelled in English. We're sure it would be s-w-i-m-m-e-r. With a capital S!