The lean CNMI Team had a fitting finale performance in the 11th FINA World Swimming Championships.
Rezne Wong prevailed in his last two preliminary races, while teammates Kensuke Kimura and Victoria Chentsova recorded personal best times over the weekend at the Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul, Turkey to cap the Commonwealth’s campaign in the five-day competition.
Wong had the 100m individual medley as his penultimate event last Saturday morning (Saturday evening on Saipan) and bested eight other swimmers on Heat 5 after clocking in at 57.89 seconds. The 21-year-old swimmer also set a new PBT in the short course, eclipsing his entry time of 1:02:00. He finished about two seconds ahead of Peru’s Enrique Duran Garcia-Bedoya (59.84 seconds), who had the fastest PBT on Heat 5 at 1:00.68. Three other swimmers on Heat 5 held better PBTs than Wong, but placed behind the CNMI bet.
The University of Hawaii-Manoa swimmer’s time was ranked No. 37 among 73 finishers and had a split time of 27.57 seconds. Ryan Lochte submitted the fastest qualifying time at 51.75 seconds and also won the gold medal in the event.
Kimura joined Wong on Heat 5 of the 100m IM and posted 1:02.56, .33 seconds faster than his previous PBT of 1:02.89. The 16-year-old swimmer finished fifth in the heat and 56th overall with a split time of 29.22 seconds.
Kimura and Wong then wrapped up their stint in the 25-meter pool competition via the 50m breaststroke with the latter ruling Heat 6 after submitting 30.09 seconds and defeating Kyrgyzstan’s Damir Davletbaev (30.25 seconds). Wong’s winning time also surpassed his PBT (31 seconds) and besides Davletbaev, he edged two other swimmers with better entry time than him.
Kimura also set a new PBT in the 50m breaststroke after completing the race in 31.88 seconds. His entry time stood at 32.01 seconds, the third best among the nine swimmers on Heat 5. He finished third on his heat behind Saint Lucia’s Bradford Worrell (30.48 seconds) and Turkmenistan’s Rusian Nazarov (31.37 seconds). Norway’s Aleksander Hetland recorded the fastest qualifying time in the event with his 26.60 seconds.
Chentsova was the last CNMI swimmer to race in Turkey via the 200m freestyle last Sunday morning and her 2:20.00 was there seconds faster than her previous PBT (2:23:01). The lone female swimmer for the Commonwealth was on Heat 2 and finished seventh in her group. Hungary’s Zsuzsanna Jakabos ruled the preliminary races with a time of 1:55.24.
Meanwhile, the Lochte-led U.S. won the short course tournament after collecting 11 gold medals, eight silver, and eight bronze. China finished second with its 3-5-2 gold-silver-bronze medal tally, while Hungary (3-4-3) rounded out the Top 3. Lochte went on to bag the best male swimmer award after earning eight medals, six of them were gold, while Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu took the women’s plum for gaining two gold medals, two silver, and one bronze.