Northern Mariana Islands Swimming Federation has named its six-member team to the 2019 Pacific Games.
The squad has a young crew in 15-year-old Aika Watanabe and 14-year-old Juhn Tenorio of Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan, and 16-year-old Jinju Thompson, 15-year-old Sophia Gauran, 16-year-old Lennosuke Suzuki, and 18-year-old David Boyer of Saipan Swim Club.
“I am really excited to represent the CNMI in the South Pacific Games. Tsunami Saipan and Saipan Swim Club members are uniting as one team and I find it special that we are all supportive of each other,” Thompson said.
Watanabe, who missed last year’s World Championships in China, is thankful that she is given another opportunity to represent the CNMI.
“It’s a great pleasure to be selected as one of the CNMI representatives. I am very nervous, but also very excited to compete,” Watanabe said.
All six swimmers were members of the CNMI Team that dominated the Inaugural Micronesian Swimming Championships held in Palau last month. The Commonwealth bets hauled 44 gold medals, 28 silvers, and 10 bronzes to beat Palau (17-22-31), Pohnpei (8-10-7), and the Marshall Islands (8 silvers, 10 bronzes).
Watanabe stood out among the six, as she was named top athlete in the over 13 age group after collecting nine gold medals (including relay) and three silvers. Tenorio earned four golds, four silvers, and one bronze, while Thompson delivered one gold medal, five silvers, and two bronzes. Gauran, Boyer, and Suzuki also gained several medals in the regional tournament.
The CNMI swimmers did an outstanding job in Palau despite the absence of an appropriate training venue and without having an actual tournament since the Kan Pacific Swimming Pool in Marpi shut down in September last year. The 50-meter pool is still closed, while the Commonwealth swimmers continue to train in open water and hotel pools in preparation for the Pacific Games that will run from July 7 to 20.
“It’s going to be another challenging swim meet, but I know we have each other’s back. It’s always an honor representing the CNMI, and I hope to make our islands proud,” Thompson said.
The medal-rich swimming competition will take place at the Samoa Aquatic Centre from July 8 to 13. One hundred 20 medals are at stake in the swim meet (including open water) with 40 events scheduled in the contest, which will double as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games.