Isaiah, Asaka rule Pau Pau to Tanapag 3K

Posted on Jan 25 2022


All 47 participants of Saipan Swim Club’s Pau Pau to Tanapag 3K pose for a group photo before the start of the ocean water swim last Saturday at Pau Pau Beach. (MARK RABAGO)

High surf and the cold water didn’t deter over 40 swimmers who took part in Saipan Swim Club’s Pau Pau to Tanapag 3K last Saturday.

The swiftest in the ocean swim were Tsunami Saipan Swimming Center’s Isaiah Aleksenko and Asaka Litulumar who ruled the men’s open and women’s open, respectively, of the 3-kilometer race from Pau Pau Beach to the Tanapag boat ramp.

Aleksenko topped his division with a time of 34:32 and seemingly shocked everyone when he was the first to emerge from surf. He beat 15th FINA World Swimming Championships campaigners Jinnosuke Suzuki and Juhn Tenorio.

Suzuki was second in a time of 34:34, while SSC’s Taiyo Akimaru was a surprise third when he reached the boat ramp in 36:30.

Aleksenko said he and Suzuki were pretty much neck-and-neck at the finish, but now much taller than the Tsunami Saipan co-captain, Aleksenko outran him when they came onto shore.

“Stumbled a bit but I just sprinted at the end to win the race,” the 15-year-old Marianas High School student said.

Isaiah Aleksenko, right, races Jinnosuke Suzuki to the shore in Saipan Swim Club’s Pau Pau to Tanapag 3K event last Saturday in the waters off the Tanapag boat ramp. (MARK RABAGO)

Aleksenko said he enjoyed the Pau Pau to Tanapag 3K despite being a bit nervous at the start.

“I liked it despite the current being very strong.”

Tenorio came in fourth among the men after he overestimated the distance.

“I thought the second buoy was the first buoy because I didn’t see the first buoy so I swam past it and was way off course.”

To add injury to insult, the 17-year-old MHS student cut his leg trying to catch up with Aleksenko and company.

“I turned around and I was panicking so I kicked off the floor and hit the coral and it cut deep so I had to swim through that coming in and against the current too,” he said.

Asked what lesson he learned from the mishap, Tenorio smiled and said, “Lookout for the first buoy!”

Tsunami Saipan head coach Hiroyuki Kimura said Tenorio had a quick visit to the hospital after the event, but is now in good spirits. He served as Kimura’s assistant coach and yesterday’s Tsunami Saipan practice.

Litulumar, meanwhile, shredded the opposition in the women’s open after clocking in at 37:44. The 16-year-old MHS student and veteran of the World Championships was followed by SSC’s Jinie Thompson and Tsunami Saipan’s Aoi Braxton with times of 39:17 and 40:12, respectively.

“Good fun and I enjoyed it,” said Litulumar, who added that she regretted not seeing any turtles or rays during her swim as she was only able to gaze at small fish.

What wasn’t fun though were the large swells she and other swimmers encountered during the 3K swim.

“The current was very strong and whenever I opened my mouth I drank a lot of saltwater. It was also very cold at the start but after a while I got used to it,” she said.

Asked if she still had stamina for a return swim to Tanapag, Litulumar could only motion her head sideways.

Results of the 14-and-under and masters divisions of the Pau Pau to Tanapag 3K will be published in the next issues of Saipan Tribune.

The Pau Pau to Tanapag 3K was sponsored by the following: Law Office of Janet King, Kerri Bauer Yoga, Aqua Resort Club, Hibiscus Salon, Cha Cafe and Bistro, I Love Saipan Store, Mango Six, Zeno Corp., Aquasmith, Seawind, Sheila Mabutas, and Hardt Eye Clinic.

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

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