CNMI swimmers off to PNG

The CNMI National Team members and officials pose for a photo after their training session last Monday in Susupe. The squad is leaving Saipan this Saturday to compete in the 12th Oceania Swimming Championships in Papua New Guinea. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The CNMI is so far sending its biggest delegation in the Oceania Swimming Championships with seven athletes and two officials participating in next week’s competition in Papua New Guinea.

Swimmers Christian Villacrusis, siblings Jinnosuke and Lennosuke Suzuki, Jinju Thompson, Sophia Gauran, Juhn Tenorio, and Nelson Batallones are leaving Saipan for PNG this Saturday to race in the biennial meet that will run from June 25 to 30 in Port Moresby. Coach Jacoby Winkfield and team manager Kento Akimaru complete the CNMI delegation in the regional tournament.

“I think this is the biggest we have so far and that means the program is growing. Through the support of the parents and the swim federation and clubs, we are able to give more swimmers exposure in high-level competition,” Winkfield said in an interview with Saipan Tribune last Monday after the squad’s open water swimming training in Susupe.

“We are ready,” Winkfield added.

The seven CNMI swimmers train five times a week at the Kan Pacific Swimming Pool and also hold open water swims three times a week.

Villacrusis, who joined the similar competition in 2016 (with Victoria Chentsova, Lennosuke, and Salofi Welch) is hoping to leave a mark in his second and last Oceania tournament as he is leaving the island for college this summer.

“I am thankful to be given another opportunity to represent the CNMI. Definitely, I will try my best to improve my times in my last chance to swim in this event,” Villacrusis said.

The Saipan Swim Club member is also using the event to set a good example and be a mentor to younger swimmers.

“We have swimmers on the team who will have their biggest tournament so far in PNG and it will be an honor to guide them and show them how it feels like to race in a very competitive environment that is way different from our local meets,” the Mt. Carmel School graduate added.

Thompson is among the newcomers in the Oceania meet and aims for best times in all her events.

“I will swim hard and try my best to drop events and qualify for other teams this year and next,” Thompson said.

She also thanked their parents and Winkfield for helping them prepare in the Oceania tournament and the 2018 Micronesian Games in Yap.

“Thank you for all your hard work and patience. I know it’s hard to drive here early morning for the 5:15 ocean swim when you could be sleeping and enjoying your summer. To our parents and our clubs, we would also like to acknowledge their support. With your help, we our stronger and getting better every day and are ready to make the CNMI proud,” Thompson 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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