Plans to reopen Marpi pool afoot

Posted on Jan 31 2020

The former Kan Pacific Pool hasn’t been used since Oct. 1, 2018 following the end of the lease of Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd. Inset, government and Northern Marianas Sports Association officials inspect the Marpi pool last Tuesday. (Contributed Photo)

The island’s swimming community yesterday welcomed the news that the administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is working on reopening the former Kan Pacific Swimming Pool in Marpi.

Saipan’s only Olympic-size pool open to the public has been closed since Oct. 1, 2018. It has been shuttered since the end of the lease of Kan Pacific Saipan Ltd., which used to operate Mariana Resort & Spa and maintained the Marpi pool as part of its lease agreement with the Department of Public Lands.

Last Tuesday, Torres and officials of the Northern Marianas Sports Association and NMI Swimming Federation conducted an ocular inspection of the Marpi pool. They were joined by officials of local swimming clubs Saipan Swim Club, Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan, and Dolphin Club Saipan.

NMISF vice president John Hirsh said they are glad that the Marpi pool would finally be reopening again and this bodes well for local swimmers, especially with the 2021 Pacific Mini Games that Saipan is hosting just around the corner.

“On behalf of the federation we are all grateful to the governor, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, and other agencies for helping to re-open the Marpi pool. As the NMI’s only competitive swimming facility, it is vitally important that our athletes have a venue in which to train and compete. With the collaboration of NMSA and our government, we’re confident that the pool can be repaired and cleaned up for use. The NMI Swimming Federation membership is ready to volunteer in any way to help restore the pool,” he said in an email to Saipan Tribune.

SSC coach Richard Sikkel also welcomed the reopening of the Marpi pool and said their swimmers can now properly train for off-island competition and the Mini Games next year.

“Obviously, we are excited that there is movement. We look forward to be able to use the pool again in the future and help with making it a reality.”

With the Marpi pool out of commission, SSC members have been training in open water and in small pools.

“The tough part about training in the ocean is the changing conditions which would need you to adjust your practice. It is hard to see the swimmers’ technique and it is hard to practice turns. Small pools allow for smaller number of swimmers and the distances are short,” he added.

Tsunami Saipan coach Hiro Kimura also thanked Torres for the promise to reopen the pool and said his swimmers can’t wait to compete again in the Marpi pool.

“Of course, we really welcome that news. On our usual practice, it goes fine because we are swimming at [the Pacific Islands Club Saipan] pool since the Marpi pool’s closure. However, we don’t have any swim meet there because the pool is not for competition. It is necessary for young swimmers to develop to swim in a meet [setting],” he said.

Kimura said if the Marpi pool reopens, they can finally hold the club’s time trials there and even possibly swimming meets every month there.

Emma Perez is ecstatic about the promised opening of the Marpi pool since it’s been the home to three swim clubs—SSC, Tsunami Saipan, and their very own Dolphin Club Saipan.

“The youth from both SSC and Tsunami have proudly represented the CNMI at international swim events for decades. Dolphin Club Saipan, which is the swim club associated with 500 Sails, taught 93 free adult classes at the pool for a total of 969 individual learning hours. Of the 1,200 swim class registrants we’ve had in the last three years, many of them came to the pool before it closed,” said the Dolphin Club Saipan co-founder

Perez said they’re “deeply grateful” to Mariana Resort & Spa for giving them the opportunity to reach out and provide a free service to the community before it closed.

“We hope to continue that tradition with whomever runs the pool going forward. Through our Gamsun Project, we may even be able to provide volunteer lifeguards,” she said.

Perez also recalled that during the ocular inspection of the Marpi pool last Tuesday, she came up to the governor and told him the reopening of the facility will not only be beneficial to local swimmers, but would ultimately save lives.

“As I told the governor poolside on Tuesday, ‘this will save lives.’ Swimming is one of the best exercises there is. Our community desperately needs to continue to learn about and participate in healthy physical activities. Also, it is never too late. I didn’t start swimming until I was in my 40s. I encourage everyone, especially our elected leaders, to be great role models and get in the water!”

Tsunami Saipan swimmers Joseph Zhang, Shoko Litulumar, Michelle Chen, and Aoi Braxton are also keeping their fingers crossed that the Marpi pool would reopen soon.

“With the Marpi pool, I definitely believe that it is the best way to test our performance level in a competitive situation,” said Zhang.

For Litulumar, the reopening of the Marpi pool would allow off-island swimmers to also compete on Saipan.

“I hope they reopen the Marpi pool so that swimmers around the world may compete in that pool and make history on the island of Saipan,” Litulumar said.

Chen said the reopening would open other opportunities for her burgeoning swimming career.

“If the Marpi pool will reopen, I feel like I can practice more better there, especially diving.”

For Braxton, the reopening would allow swimmers like her to compete off-island and break swimming records. “We have dreams of accomplishing our goals and representing our island in future meets. We can make records and have more meets like before.”

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