4 picked for World Champs in Budapest


CNMI national swimmers to the 2022 FINA World Championship set from June 18 to July 3 in Budapest, Hungary pose for a group photo. From left, Taiyo Akimaru, Jinie Thompson, Maria Batallones, and Juhn Tenorio. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

The Northern Marianas Islands Swimming Federation has picked four swimmers who will be representing the CNMI in the 2022 FINA World Championship set from June 18 to July 3 in Budapest, Hungary.

The four swimmers are Juhn Tenorio, Taiyo Akimaru, Jinie Thompson, and Maria Batallones. They will be coached by Richard Sikkel.
NMSF president Colin Thompson will also be traveling with the national team to Budapest to represent the CNMI’s swimming interests within the FINA organization. 

Originally from Holland, Sikkel is looking forward to seeing the CNMI swimmers compete in his neck of the woods. 

“I have no doubt that all four swimmers will swim personal bests during their events. We may even see a national record or two crumble,” he said. 

Aside from doing well in the competition, he hopes the swimmers get a chance to experience a little bit of Europe while there.

Tenorio, an 18-year-old senior at Marianas High School, considers himself lucky to don the CNMI color again in the FINA World Championships.

“I am honored to represent our islands and I would like to thank the swimming federation for giving me this opportunity once again. Although we are not in the ideal situation I am confident that my team and I will bring back the best results we possibly can!”

Tenorio also represented the islands in the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates last December.

Akimaru, a 10th grader at MHS, admitted his selection caught him by surprise.

“I am very surprised and happy to represent NMI and compete in the world championships. I am really nervous because this is my first competition against world class swimmers. I am really happy to be able to compete with world class swimmers and learn from them. I am swimming in the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly, which are the two events I will be doing in the competition. I will try my best to represent the CNMI.”

Thompson, for her part, feels humbled and honored to have been selected to represent the CNMI in the World Championships. 

“There is a bit of nerves, but I think that having a healthy amount is a good thing and I am beyond excited to compete! I am looking forward to representing the CNMI and participating at such a prestigious event with the best athletes from all over the world. I grew up watching my sister compete at the World Championships. Her first World Championship was also in Budapest so it is really sentimental to me that it is all coming back in a full circle.”

She said the special part about the  FINA World Championships is getting to see the camaraderie that the sport brings. 

“I am looking forward to meeting new people and swimming alongside people from different countries,” the 16-year-old from Saipan International School said.

Like her teammates, Batallones is also honored and excited to be part of the CNMI national team to Budapest. 

“This would be my first time at a World Championship. I have many goals set for myself and I’m looking forward to achieving them. I will make sure to train hard, to make myself proud, my team proud, and my friends and family. This is a great opportunity and I know we will all do so well. I’m so looking forward to representing the CNMI and coming home proud of my success and achievements,” said the 14-year-old senior at Hopwood Middle School.

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

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