Justin repeats; Kaya improves to No. 1

SSC-Justine Ma photo

From left, Kaya Braxton, Maria Guerrero, Nagisa Litulumar, Justin Ma, Shuman Barman, and Richard Zhou pose for a group shot after getting their medals in the 500m race of Saipan Swim Club’s Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series last July 24 in the waters off the Civic Center Beach in Susupe. (Mark Rabago)

Justin Ma proved that his July 10 win was no fluke while Kaya Braxton topped the girls 500m in the second installment of Saipan Swim Club’s Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series last July 24 in the waters off the Civic Center Beach in Susupe.

Ma was like a dolphin possessed in the 500m open with a time of 6:23.51, which was a vast improvement to the 7:50.4 he submitted two weeks prior.

“Honestly, I never thought that I would actually win the second Triple Crown open water race. It was really tough but I was still able to pull through the competition. Shuman [Barman] was in front of me for most of the race but somehow I took what was left in my body and touched the flag first. After the ocean swim I made a promise to myself and that is to try my best every time. No matter the conditions I will always try my very best and give it all I’ve got,” he said.

Barman, who like Ma swims for Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan and coach Hiro Kimura, settled for second place with a time of 6:27.11.

Richard Zhao completed the Top 3 with a time of 7:06.89. He swam an 8:47.4. last time out. “I really love this race. It was fun. Thank you coach Hiro for training me. I improved a lot from joining the open water race. I’m happy about the result, but I will train harder to improve it next time.

Braxton was first in the girls 500m with a superb time of 6:49.34 that was impressive considering she finished second at 8:33.8 in the first open water swim.

“I feel happy I got first place and I’m so glad my teammates placed also. While I was swimming, I felt so tired and nervous. But I didn’t know that I got first place. I’m so happy and excited when I got the trophy. My mom and dad got happy and excited too. I felt happy in that part,” she said.

Nagisa Litulumar came in runner-up at 7:00.05 that like Braxton’s was markedly faster than the 8:41.4 she swam in the first part of the open water swim.

“Last week’s ocean swim was pretty tough for most of us including me. At that time when the ocean’s current was getting stronger, I thought that I wouldn’t make it but I did and I got a faster time. I hope to improve my time for the next September race,” she said.

Maria Guerrero completed the Top 3 with a time of 7:27.63. “Since sea conditions were bad, it was harder to swim especially against the current but I placed third which I’m grateful for,” she said.

The Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series was sanctioned by the Northern Mariana Islands Swimming Federation and is the second of three events, which main purpose is to choose four swimmers (top two men and top two women) that will represent the CNMI in the 2021 FINA World Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates this coming December.

Results of the 100m for advanced will be published in the next issue of Saipan Tribune.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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