8 SSC swimmers return to action


Saipan Swim Club co-founder Bill Sakovich, second left back row, joins SSC swimmers and coaches for a group photo at the departure area of the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport yesterday before they leave for Palau to compete in the Inaugural Micronesian Swimming Championships. (Contributed Photo)

Eight Saipan Swim Club members left Saipan yesterday to race in the Inaugural Micronesian Swimming Championships in Palau.

Brothers Jinnosuke and Lennosuke Suzuki, sisters Jinju and Jinie Thompson, Taiyo Akimaru, Sophia Gauran, Savita Sikkel, and David Boyer will be competing in their first swimming tournament since the closure of the Kan Pacific Swimming Pool in Marpi in October last year. Joining the group are coach Jacoby Winkfield, assistant coach Sarah Vander Wal, and SSC co-founder Bill Sakovich, who will be a guest of honor in the regional event that will kick off today and run until April 7.

Winkfield said the competition in Palau will serve as a warmup for SSC swimmers who will also race in the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa and the World Championships in Korea this summer.

“The goal in the meet is to get a feeling for the pool again. SSC has not swum in a pool in five months and while swimming is swimming, swimming in the pool and ocean are different. Several of our swimmers may be participating in Pacific Games and World Championships this summer and the opportunity to get pool time is important. In addition to racing, it is always great to catch up with the fellow swimmers in our region,” said Winkfield.

In Palau, more than 40 swimmers from the host island, CNMI (including Tsunami Saipan members), Marshall Islands, and Pohnpei will be competing in the four-day event.

Winkfield added that the off-island tournament will help boost the morale of their swimmers, which are definitely affected by the Marpi pool shutdown.

“Much like Yutu (Super Typhoon Yutu that hit Saipan and Tinian late last year), initially the trauma had us running on adrenaline. Now, we are trying to make the reality functional, so we can move on and improve. The most difficult part of dealing with the pool closure is not physical, but the psychological. Moral is low, making events like this important so the swimmers don’t loose motivation. That has been the most difficult aspect for the coaches,” Winkfield said.

Despite these challenges, the SSC coach is happy and proud that their swimmers are staying in the program.

“In spite of the difficult year the swimmers have had, they have persevered and continued to work. Keep up the hard work guys, you are the reason that the club will last another 45 years,” Winkfield said.

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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