Isaiah, Aoi top 1,500m open water swim

Posted on Jul 27 2021


Isaiah Aleksenko and Aoi Braxton made mincemeat of choppy seas to win the 1,500m course of Saipan Swimming Club’s Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series early Saturday morning in the churning waters off the Civic Center Beach in Susupe.

Aleksenko, of Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan, was the first to touch the flag in the longest race of the day with a time of 15:05.23. He was followed by teammate Kean Pajarillaga and vacationing Daisuke Fitial at 16:09.59 and 16:22.19, respectively.

“I really enjoyed this ocean swim, because it was a different experience. It was a different experience because the water was very rough and it was a challenge to push through the water. I’m very thankful for being able to participate in the ocean swim and I’m very thankful for all the support and for my coach making this ocean swim possible for us,” Aleksenko told Saipan Tribune.

Pajarillaga, for his part, said he’s pretty satisfied with his time in the open water swim, considering the waves were really strong and it was hard to swim against it.

“This was my first open water race where I actually had to swim against the current. The waves were a tough challenge, but it didn’t stop me from finishing the race,” he said.

Fitial, who swam for Tsunami Saipan and coach Hiro Kimura from 2005 to 2008 before leaving for the U.S. mainland, said his third place finish was a surprise since he hasn’t competed in an open water swim in 15 years,

“This was my first ocean swim since 2006. The conditions on Saturday were not great, but we still had to work with what we had. I was not used to swimming in the ocean, so it was difficult for me to adjust. It was fun being able to race the younger generation of Tsunami swimmers, and a good test of endurance.”

Braxton topped the women’s 1,500m by clocking in at 19:12.17 to beat fellow Tsunami Saipan tankers Julia Jinang and Ayumi Obligacion, who timed in at 19:21.22 and 20:13.26, respectively.

“Although the water was rough, we still managed to have the race and everyone did great. I’m looking forward to the next race,” she said in echoing the rough conditions due to the large swells.

Jinang said she’s very glad they were able to push through with the swim meet even though the weather was harsh. “Seeing the improvement in my teammates and I boosted my spirits and I can’t wait for the next event.”

Obligacion thanked all the parents and volunteers that made last Saturday’s open water swim happen despite the inclement weather.

“Even if the weather was horrible that day, I would like to congratulate all swimmers that swam and didn’t gave up, especially the little kids. I’m looking forward for the next meet on September and I hope that everyone gets their best times on that day.”

Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series was sanctioned by the Northern Mariana Islands Swimming Federation and is the second of three events, which main purpose is to chose four swimmers (top two men and top two women) that will represent the CNMI in the 2021 FINA World Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates this coming December.

Results of the 20m for beginners, 50m for intermediate, 100m for advanced, 500m open, 1,000m open, and 1,000m qualifier will be published in the next issues of the Saipan Tribune.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at
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