CNMI swimmers were off to a good start in the 12th Oceania Swimming Championships after earning finals appearances and personal best times last Tuesday in Papua New Guinea.
Christian Villacrusis, Lennosuke Suzuki, Jinju Thompson, Sophia Gauran, and Juhn Tenorio marched into the finals of their respective events in the opening day of the biennial competition being held at the Taurama Aquatic and Indoor Centre in Port Moresby.
Villacrusis competed in the 200m breaststroke event and clocked in at 2:50.51 to finish seventh in the preliminary round and advance to the finals. In the medal race, the 18-year-old swimmer registered 4:46.70, surpassing not only his preliminary time, but also his previous PBT (2:49.95). New Zealand’s Jonathan Rutter (2:15.54) topped the event and was followed by Fij’s Taichi Vakasama (2:17.39) and Australia’s Finn O’Connor (2:18.70).
In the 200m freestyle event, Lennosuke joined the junior division and timed in at 2:07.83 (No. 14 out of 37) to beat 23 other swimmers, including his brother Jinnosuke, and moved into the B Finals. The older Suzuki managed to better his prelim time after touching the wall at the 2:07.80 mark in the finals, which was won by Hawaii’s Michael Petrides (1:51.74). The Cook Islands’ Wesley Roberts (1:51.21) and Australia’s Aaron Mansfield (1:53.13) rounded out the Top 3.
Jinnosuke did not qualify to the finals, but finished ahead of 17 other swimmers and set a new PBT of 2:12.06 (from 2:12.59). Tenorio also got a PBT in the same event after posting 2:18.47 (from 2:22.59), while Nelson Batallones and Villacrusis timed in at 2:16.55 and 2:22.03, respectively, and were still in front of swimmers from PNG, the Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, and New Zealand.
In the same event in the women’s division, Thompson and Gauran defeated seven other swimmers and their times of 2:30.32 and 2:35.30 put them in the B Finals race, which took place last Tuesday afternoon.
Thompson then logged 2:29.58 in the finals for a new PBT (from 2:29.69), while Gauran had the same feat as her 2:32.81 broke her previous best of 2:33.46.
In the 100m backstroke, Tenorio shattered his PBT twice. In the preliminary swim, he checked in at 1:08.36 to surpass his record of 1:93.57 and advance to the B Finals where he reset his mark after tallying 1:07.54.
In other results, Jinnosuke got his second PBT just in the first day of the tournament after competing the lung-busting 1,500m freestyle race in 18:03.59. The CNMI bet was the youngest swimmer (12 years old) to do the event and managed to chop off more than 17 seconds from his old PBT (18:21.10). Australian and 21-year-old Ethan Owens ruled the event with a time of 15:49.46.
In the mixed 4x50m freestyle race, Gauran, Villacrusis, Thompson, and Lennosuke suited up for the CNMI and the quartet timed in at 1:56.95 to beat the Marshall Islands’ Colleen Furgeson, Daniel Ranis, Philip Kinono, and Ann-Marie Hepler (1:50.64). New Zealand took the gold medal in the relay after Carter Swift, Paige Flynn, Rebecca Moynihan, and Daniel Caldwell posted 1:41.16. Hawaii and Australia won the silver and bronze, respectively.
“Team NMI has been doing great here in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. We are so proud and incredibly honored to represent our island. We have been getting some personal bests, but most importantly every swim has been a learning opportunity. This is an amazing experience for us,” head coach Jacoby Winkfield wrote on Saipan Swim Club’s Facebook page to update their supporters back home.