CNMI swimmers begin world champs bid


From left, CNMI coach Jacoby Winkfield, Christian Villacrusis, Angel De Jesus, and Salofi Welch pose for a photo at the departure area of the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport last weekend before they leave for Canada to compete in the 13th FINA World Swimming Championships. (Contributed Photo)

Three CNMI swimmers will plunge into the pool today as they debut in the 13th FINA World Swimming Championships in Windsor, Canada.

Angel De Jesus, Christian Villacrusis, and Salofi Welch, who left Saipan last weekend along with head coach Jacoby Winkfield to represent the Commonwealth in the six-day short course tournament (25-meter), will be racing in the qualifying heats of five events. De Jesus will join the 50m breaststroke, 200m freestyle, and 100m backstroke on Day 1 of the competition, while Villacrusis and Welch will both participate in the 200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke races at the Windsor Family Credit Union Centre in Ontario.

In the 100m breaststroke, the CNMI’s two male swimmers are on Heat 1, joining eight other participants. Villacrusis and Welch, whose seed times in the event read at 1.17.76 and 1.23.29, respectively, will go up against Brunei’s Muis Ahmad, Malawi’s Michael Swift, Niger’s Alassane Seydoulancina, Nepal’s Shuvam Shrestha, Honduras’ Josue Portillo, Tanzania’s Adil Bharmal, Gambia’s Jegan Jobe, and Slovenia’s Peter Stevens. There are 10 heats in the 100m breaststroke and only the Top 2 in each pool will advance to the next round.

In the 200m IM, swimmers are spread in seven heats with the two CNMI bets again on the same group (Heat 1). Welch’s entry time in the eight-lap race is 2.38.59, while Villacrusis’ is listed at 2.34.70. They will be swimming against Great Britain’s Mark Szaranek, Swaziland’s Mark Hoare, Honduras’ Carlos Vasquez, Papua New Guinea’s Standford Kawale, Austria’s Jakub Maly, and Vietnam’s Duy Khoi Tran.

De Jesus is also on Heat 1 of the women’s 100m backstroke and she will battle only three swimmers—Palau’s Osisang Chilton, Maldives’ Aishath Sausan, and Swaziland’s Robyn Young. The CNMI swimmer’s entry time in the 100m backstroke is 1.24.14.

In the 200m freestyle, De Jesus’ time is 2.26.15 and she will race in on Heat 1 against Chilton anew. Other entries in the event are the Marshall Islands’ Ruthie Long, Maldives’ Aminath Shajan, Great Britain’s Georgia Coates, and Tonga’s Charissa Panuve.

For her last event—the 50m breaststroke—De Jesus is on Heat 2 and will be up against nine other swimmers. The list includes Uganda’s Anthea Mudanye, Comoros’ Mohamed Nazlati, Nepal’s Niharika Tuladhar, Curacao’s Tiareth Cijntje, Honduras’ Cecilia Medina, Albania’s Kejsi Delli, Marshall Islands’ Coleen Furgeson and Annie Hepller, and Malawi’s Chang’Anamuni.

De Jesus and company are among the nearly 1,000 swimmers from 208 members of the Fédération Internationale De Natation (FINA) competing in the short course tournament.

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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