4 formally named to World Champs


The CNMI team bound for the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships this December in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates pose for a group photo. From left, Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan coach Hiro Kimura, Shoko Litulumar, Asaka Litulumar, Juhn Tenorio, Jinnosuke Suzuki, and Northern Mariana Islands Swimming Federation representative and Saipan Swim Club coach Richard Sikkel. (Contributed Photo)

Jinnosuke Suzuki, Juhn Tenorio, and sisters Shoko and Asaka Litulumar were formally named to the CNMI delegation to the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships this December in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Northern Mariana Islands Swimming Federation held a meeting earlier this month and the four Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan swimmers, who topped a series of open water qualifiers, were named to the CNMI team. They will be joined by Tsunami Saipan head coach Hiro Kimura and Saipan Swim Club coach Richard Sikkel, who will serve as NMISF representative in the meet in the UAE.

“NMISF has named the four swimmers who will be representing the CNMI during the World Championships in Abu Dhabi. Jinnosuke, Juhn, Asaka, and Shoko were the top performers in the Triple Crown qualifier and were deemed most deserving of a spot on the national squad based on their performance and other selection criteria set by the NMISF,” said Sikkel.

He added that NMISF is confident that Suzuki, Tenorio, and the Litulumar sisters will perform to the best of their abilities when they don the CNMI’s colors in the World Championships.

“I have no doubt they will put forth their best effort to represent the islands on the world stage. Aside from it being a great opportunity and honor for these swimmers to participate in one of the largest FINA events, it is also a wonderful learning experience for us coaches and national federation officials. Attending international events such as the swimming world championships will keep us abreast of the latest developments in the swimming world, be it coaching techniques, regulations, federation governance, etc. and bring that knowledge back with us to grow and improve the quality of swimming in the CNMI,” added Sikkel.

Kimura was glad that his wards proved him right when he selected the four to compete in the Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series that served as qualifiers for the World Championships that started last Sept. 25.

“I recommended everyone as national representatives because of their good personality, good character, hard work, high practice attendance, and eligibility.”

He said Tenorio and Suzuki already proved themselves in regional competitions in the past and are primed for their best performances in the upcoming World Championships.

“Juhn already won gold despite still being young, as he was just 14 years old in the 2019 Micronesian Swimming Championships in Palau. Jinnosuke also won a silver in another event when he was just 13 years old. It just makes sense for these two boys who are already the top swimmers in Micronesia to become national representatives. After only becoming a top swimmer in Micronesia should you be allowed to be a national representative.”

While Tenorio and Suzuki have already proven their mettle, the Litulumar sisters are in the cusp of becoming the best swimmers in the region as well.

“Asaka also won many medals in Micronesian Swimming Championships. However, Micronesia’s top swimmer at the time was Aika Watanabe of the CNMI. Asaka couldn’t beat Aika in any of the events. But after three years, Asaka has worked hard and I believe she surpassed the Aika of that time. If the Micronesian Swimming Championships is held now, Asaka will definitely win some events. From that point of view, I think it’s all but natural that Asaka be selected as a national representative,” said Kimura.

“At the Micronesian Swimming Championships, Shoko won many medals but her division was a younger class because she was still 12 years old. Three years after that, Shoko has grown up and has been improving greatly. I think that was proven to everyone in the qualifier race last Sept. 25,” he added.

Aside from their prowess in the water, Kimura said Tenorio, Suzuki, and the Litulumar sisters have also slowly become leaders for Tsunami Saipan.

“Juhn is now the captain of our club and organizes a team of over 60 swimmers in total. Jinnosuke assists Juhn as a vice captain. Asaka has become the leader of our girl swimmers. Shoko has also helped Asaka very well.”

The Tsunami Saipan coach is also happy that Sikkel will be traveling with them to the World Championships.

“Richard is a very respectable person. I’m so happy with him going to Abu Dhabi. Richard is also head coach of SSC. We are currently working on combined practices. Tsunami Saipan swimmers participate in SSC practices and SSC swimmers participate in Tsunami Saipan practices. We have already done it a couple of times. A very good effect appears in both club’s swimmers. We look forward to building a good relationship between the two clubs as well as NMI Swimming in the future,” said Kimura.

MD: Jinnosuke Suzuki, Juhn Tenorio, and sisters Shoko and Asaka Litulumar were formally named to the CNMI delegation to the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships this December in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

KW: Jinnosuke Suzuki, Juhn Tenorio, Shoko Litulumar, Asaka Litulumar, 15th FINA World Swimming Championships, Saipan.

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

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