Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan’s Isaiah Aleksenko and Aoi Braxton finished first in the longest race of Saipan Swim Club’s Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series held last Saturday, Sept. 25, in the waters off Civic Center Beach in Susupe.
Aleksenko topped the men’s division of the 1,500m swim with a sterling time of 19:25.92. He was followed by teammates Kean Pajarillaga and Kouki Watanabe, who came in at 20:47.85 and 21:39.80, respectively.
The 15-year-old Marianas High School student said he’s glad to not only finish first in the longest race of the day, but also to experience competing again after months of no meets.
“I’m really happy that I got to participate in the Triple Crown swimming event. I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed Saturday’s competition. I’m very grateful that I had such wonderful and supportive swimmates, and I hope we can do something like this in the future again. My next target is to beat my time, and to participate in this swim event again,” he said.
Pajarillaga is pretty happy finishing second place in the race.
“My teammates in this race were Isaiah and Kouki. I feel like I could’ve done better, so I plan on practicing more in order to become faster and improve. I hope that there will be more opportunities for me to compete in any type of swimming competition, so that I have a better chance at getting better results. I think that I did pretty well but my goal next time is get a better time.”
Watanabe, for his part, said coming in third place is already an accomplishment for him.
“This final Triple Crown race was a victory for me because I managed to get third place even though it was the first 1,500m in a long time. I was a little nervous because I was swimming 1,000m for the first two races, but my teammates cheered me on to the end that led me to third place. For my next goal I will be aiming for at least second place. This race was just a warmup for the next one!”
Braxton was the first woman to cross the finish line in the 1,500m, submitting a time of 23:07.32. She was followed by fellow Tsunami Saipan members Julia Jinang and Ayumi Obligacion, who registered swims of 23:18.10 and 25:53.91, respectively.
“The last Triple Crown race was challenging. I’m glad I dropped my time 15 seconds on the 1.5K. I’m also happy for my teammates and I’m proud that they all did their best,” said Braxton.
Jinang, for her part, said the results of the third and final race tied the Triple Crown event altogether with a bow.
“I believe that my swimmates and I have done their best and received the awards that they deserve. I am seeing great progress in my team, especially Aoi Braxton and Ayumi Obligacion, who swam 1.5 kilometers with me. This was a great competitive event to start off with after a while of no official races. Each day of practice helps me reach my long-term goal of getting the best times, learning the best techniques, and constantly improving,” she said.
Obligacion said she’s thankful for everyone who made the Triple Crown series possible.
“I would like to congratulate all participants of the Final Triple Crown Race that held last Saturday and all parents that helped us to make this race happen. This race was mostly meant for the Abu Dhabi representatives of Saipan, but besides that I think everyone did a great job that day. I would like to wish them all the best of luck at Abu Dhabi and hope there is more swim meets to come in the future,” she said.
Results of the 1,000m, 500m, 100m, 50m, and 25m open water races will be published in next issues of the Saipan Tribune.