Two-time Olympic bronze medalist Evelyn Tokue Kawamoto-Kono passed away in Hawaii on January 22nd at the age of 83. Memorial services have not been announced yet.
Kawamoto-Kono grew up swimming in her home state of Hawaii where she achieved early success. At the age of 13 she began committing to training every day and was already breaking high school records at her local school. At just 14 she qualified for the 1948 U.S Olympic Trials where she competed, but didn’t make the team.
Following he trials debut Kawamoto-Kono began to emerge as one of the top up-and-comers in the country in both the IM and breaststroke races. Kawamoto-Kono broke the American record in the 300m IM and 200m breaststroke on the same day when she was just 15.
Shortly after breaking those records, she established herself further by wining both events at the 1949 U.S Nationals in San Antonio, Texas. During that quad Kawamoto-Kono was dominant in the IM and breaststroke races, making herself known as the 1952 Olympic Trials approached.
The ’52 trials began in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Kawamoto-Kono managed to break the former American record in the 400m freestyle en route to qualifying for the Olympic team.
Despite her former focus being IM and breaststroke, Kawamoto-Komo earned a bronze in the 400m freestyle at the Olympic Games in Helsinki and added a bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
Notably Kawamoto-Komo was married to Ford Kono, another American swimmer from Hawaii who won two gold and a silver at the 1952 Olympic Games and a silver at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.