4 swimmers off to world champs


Christian Villacrusis is among the four swimmers who will represent the CNMI in the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Four swimmers are heading to Budapest, Hungary this week to represent the CNMI in the 17th FINA World Championships.

Jinju Thompson left Saipan last night, while Christian Villacrusis and David Boyer will fly to Incheon, Korea today for their connecting flight to Budapest. The fourth member of the CNMI Team, Victoria Chentsova, will be coming from Massachusetts and reunite with her teammates and coach Valrick Welch this Saturday. The four Commonwealth swimmers will begin competing in the long course meet on July 23 (July 24 on Saipan) at the brand new and state-of-the art Dagály Swimming Complex, joining more than 3,000 athletes from over 200 countries in the 17-day event (June 14 to 30).

“I am so honored to be given the opportunity to represent our island. I am excited to swim hard and hopefully get good times. It’s an exciting adventure and I really appreciate all the help that my coach (Jacoby Winkfield) has given me. I am so thankful for this and I can’t wait to see some of the fastest swimmers in the world,” said Thompson, the youngest member of the squad at 14.

Thompson will be participating in a world championship event for the first time and will race in the 100m and 200m freestyle contests. The Grace Christian Academy student’s seed times for the tournament in Budapest are listed at 1:10.66 and 2:33.74 in the 100m and 200m freestyle, respectively. However, Thompson earned her best time in the 100m freestyle early this month when she clocked in at 1:09.66 in the 69th Annual Keo Nakama Invitational in Hawaii.

Villacrusis will also race in the 100m freestyle event with a seed time of 1:00.30. He broke the 1-minute barrier during the same Hawaii meet after posting 59.37 seconds. The tournament in Budapest will be the Mt. Carmel School student’s second world championships event as he also saw action in the 13th FINA World Swimming Championships (short course) in Ontario, Canada last year. Villacrusis swam in the 100m freestyle event, too and timed in at 58.42.

Though competing in the world stage is not new to him, the 17-year-old swimmer can still feel the nerves.

“This event is long course so I am kind of nervous because I’ve only been to a FINA short course meet,” said Villacrusis. “I am very thankful for being able to represent the CNMI in the world’s biggest swim meet. I get to meet new people and watch elite swimmers race so it is a good learning experience. This opportunity is not given to many people so I will do my very best.”

Besides the 100m freestyle event, Villacrusis will also compete in the 100m breaststroke where his seed time is listed at 1:18.57. The SSC swimmer has a new personal best in the 100m breaststroke after recording 1:18.48 in the Hawaii meet early this month. The seed times submitted to the world championships were made before Villacrusis and company participated in the 69th Annual Keo Nakama Invitational.

Meanwhile, Chentsova and Boyer will also race in two events each. The 17-year-old Boyer will compete in the 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle where his seed times are listed at 1:07.51 and 1:01.47, respectively. The U.S.-based Chentsova will do the 100m backstroke and 400m freestyle races.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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