The CNMI swim team is the first Commonwealth squad to make it to Pohnpei for the 8th Micronesian Games.
The squad, which is composed of swimmers Victoria Chentsova, Kento Akimaru, Christian Villacrusis, and Takumi Sugie and coach Jacoby Winkfield, left Saipan early yesterday morning and was expected to arrive at the host state yesterday evening.
The early departure of the Commonwealth’s swimmers will give them enough time to practice at the swimming facility in Pohnpei, as the competition at the pool will not kick off until July 21. The swimming races will be held at the improved PNI Swimming Pool, which is located in Kolonia next to the headquarters of the Pohnpei National Olympic Committee. The 50-meter pool was idle for five years before undergoing repair more than a year ago through funds from International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Australian AID program. It was reopened to the public early last year.
The swimming competition will run for three days with the preliminary races beginning at 9am. The afternoon races, which will start at 4pm, are for the medal round. Thirteen events are lined up in Day 1 of the swimming contest with participants from the CNMI, Guam, Pohnpei, Yap, Kosrae, Palau, and Nauru racing in the men’s and women’s 100m freestyle, 200m breaststroke, 100m backstroke, 200M individual medley, 50 butterfly, 1,500m freestyle, and 4x100m medley relay.
In Day 2, the events are as follows: men’s and women’s 200m freestyle, 50m breaststroke, 400m IM, 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 800m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay, and 4x50m medley relay. In the final day of the competition, there will be 13 events: men and women’s 200m butterfly, 50m backstroke, 50m freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 400m freestyle, 4x50m freestyle relay, and mixed 4x200m freestyle relay.
Chentsova, the veteran member of the team, will be the CNMI’s bet in freestyle races, especially the long distance ones, while the squad will lean on Akimaru in the IMs and breaststroke events. Sugie will lead the Commonwealth’s campaign in sprint races, while Villacrusis will also join sprint races in freestyle and breaststroke. Saipan Tribune has yet to receive from Winkfield the official list of events of the four CNMI swimmers.
The four swimmers are expected to bring home medals from Pohnpei, according to Northern Mariana Islands Swimming Federation president John Hirsh.
“We are anticipating several medals from our young swimmers. We are very excited for them, for the opportunity to compete against the top swimmers from Micronesia. I hope they will have a great experience in Pohnpei,” said Hirsh in a telephone interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday.
The CNMI ruled the swimming competition in the 2010 Micronesian Games in Palau with Rezne Wong leading the team. The Commonwealth hauled 35 medals, 23 of them were gold, seven silvers, and five bronzes. Wong won 13 gold medals and one silver to earn the Male Outstanding Athlete award of the 2010 Micronesian Games.