The CNMI Team started its campaign in the 11th FINA World Swimming Championships on a positive note.
Rezne Wong, Kensuke Kimura, and Victoria Chentsova eclipsed their personal best times (entry times) in the opening day of the FINA competition last Wednesday morning (Wednesday evening on Saipan) at the Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul, Turkey.
Wong raced in the 100m breaststroke and was on Heat 4 with a qualifying time of 1:07.21. He went on to complete the event in 1:05.03 and finished fourth out of the nine swimmers in his group and 70th overall among the 95 entries in the preliminary races.
Cyprus’ Lefkios Xanthou won Heat 4 with a time of 1:04.11, ahead of Macedonia’s Damjan Petrovski (1:04.37) and Costa Rica’s Jose Montoya (1:04.43). American swimmer Kevin Cordes recorded the fastest qualifying time among the 10 heats, timing in at 57.66 seconds to lead 15 other qualifiers to the next round.
Kimura was also in the same 100m breaststroke race and chopped off more than two seconds from his PBT (1:12.52) after submitting 1:09.22 on Heat 2. He placed third in his group behind Kuwait’s Abdulrahman Albader (1:03.28) and Turkmenistan’s Rusian Nazarov (1:08.17) and 78th overall.
Chentsova had a different event, competing in the 100m backstroke where her PBT or entry time was listed at 1:19.65. She joined Heat 1 of the preliminary races with seven others and clocked in at 1:14.14 to finish third in her group. Kazakhstan’s Yekaterina Rudentko ruled Heat 1 with a time of 1:01.16, beating Myanmar’s Zin Win (1:12:01), while Czech Republic’s Simona Baumrtova logged the fastest time among the seven heats with her 57.65 seconds.
Meanwhile, Wong and Kimura were scheduled to race in their second event last Thursday morning, while Chentsova took a break and will have her last event in the tournament—the 200m freestyle this Saturday morning (evening on Saipan).
Kimura and Wong were both entered in the preliminary races in the 50m freestyle event. Kimura was on Heat 6 with a PBT of 26.26 seconds and raced against eight others, including the favored Qatari Abdulrahman Al-Kuwari, who had the fastest seed time at 25:80 seconds.
Wong raced on Heat 7 and had the third best entry time in his group with 25.29 seconds, three seconds behind the Cook Island’s Tepaia Zac Payne and a second behind Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Tolga Akcayli.
The three Commonwealth swimmers competing in Turkey are accompanied by former CNMI swimmer Minerva Cabrera.