Isaiah, Jinie top Tan Holdings open water swim



National swimmers Isaiah Aleksenko and Jinie Kim Thompson sped through the water like dolphins possessed and topped the 1,500m swim of the Tan Holding 50th Anniversary Swim Meet last Saturday in the waters off the Civic Center Beach.

Aleksenko was the first to reach the sand in the longest event of the day in 18:30.21. 

The 16-year-old Marianas High School junior was followed in the men’s division by  Tsunami Saipan Swimming Center teammates Jinnosuke Suzuki and Kean James Pajarillaga with times of 19:01.80 and 20:05.54, respectively.


Aleksenko said he was very satisfied with topping the 1,500m open water swim.

“I was very happy with the results I got during the swim. It was very fun and I enjoyed it. The water was pretty cold and had a little bit of a current but wasn’t too bad. I’m dedicating this win to God, my mom, my coach, and my family,” he said. 

Aleksenko said teammate and fellow national swimmer Suzuki gave him the toughest challenge on the swim.

As for his overall swimming experience in the Saipan lagoon, “I saw a couple of fish but no turtles,” he said.

Thompson, for her part, narrowly beat Maria Batallones in the women’s race of the 1,500m swim after crossing the finish line in 22:00.17.

Tsunami Saipan swimmers Batallones and Julia Jinang came in second and third with swims of 22:01.63 and 26:06.62, respectively.

The 17-year-old junior at MHS said Batallones actually was ahead of her until the final stretch of the open water swim. 

“Me and Maria were not neck-and-neck the entire race. I was behind her for a majority of the race, but began to make my move up during the last 300 meters,” she said.

And that’s why the last leg of the 1,500m, Thompson said, was the toughest part of the swim.

“I sprinted up next to Maria and we were neck-and-neck up until the finish. At this point my body was exhausted but I kept telling myself in my head that if I push through the last few meters, then it will all be so worth it in the end.”

The Saipan Swim Club stalwart said despite the win, she will continue to train harder to reach her full potential.

“The water was great that morning. The current was not too strong and the conditions were perfect to swim in. My initial thoughts would be how I don’t want the win  to get to my head in any way. Instead I will only use this experience to drive my motivation going forward in being even more persistent with my training toward whatever events that may be held in the future,” she said.

Thompson dedicated her win in the 1,500m swim to SSC and her coach Christian Villacrusis.

“They are the ones who keep me going in practice. We are with each other everyday and continuously push each other in practice, so to see each other excel is a great reward.”

In the 50+ division that was specially included as NMISF honored Tan Holdings for its 50th anniversary, Vince Seman, Robert Coates, Boboy Aguilar, Gary De Guzman, Manny Sitchon, Valrich Welch, and Yulia Aleksanko took on the challenge and will be awarded medals by NMISF.

Results of the 50m for U8, 100m for U10, and 500m and 1,000m for open swimmers will be published in the next issues of Saipan Tribune.

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

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