CNMI Sports Hall of Famer and Saipan Swim Club co-founder Bill Sakovich joined 40 others in completing last Sunday’s 2019 Escape from Managaha.
“It was my first time to do the race. The water was a bit choppy on the way to the channel and there’s a strong wind towards the end, but other than that, it was a fun race,” said Sakovich, who missed the early editions of the 2.4-kilometer crossing from Saipan’s famous island to Micro Beach, as he had already moved to Hawaii when the event first started in 2003.
“It’s nice to see old and new faces doing ocean swims or helping out as volunteers,” he added after reuniting with former CNMI swimmers Seung Gin Lee, Colin Thompson, Jacoby Winkfield, and Kristy Springer. Lee, Winkfield, and Springer volunteered as paddlers, guiding the “escapees” during the race.
Winkfield said SSC is honored to have one of its founders (the other one was Bill’s wife, Jeanne) in last weekend’s event. Sakovich, who is in his late 70s, completed the crossing in less than an hour (57:40).
“At his age, he remains active in swimming. He continues to inspire us and motivate our swimmers. It was pretty cool to have him around here—this time as a swimmer, not an organizer,” Winkfield said.
Joining Sakovich on the first-timers list were off-island athletes that just completed the 30th Tagaman Triathlon last Saturday.
Among them was the Philippines’ Fernando Jose Casares Tan, who timed in at 33:51 to place second behind SSC swimmer Jinnosuke Suzuki (33:34). Jinnosuke’s older brother, Lennosuke, rounded out the Top 3
Other Tagaman finishers who tried out SSC’s open water swim were Kaon Cho (42:13), Jihyuk Yang (42:15), Maria Hodges (42:35), Stephanie Ng (45:41), Nestor Gonzales (48:18), Byung Geun Lee (51:21), and Jae Hong Kim (52:54).
Hodges was the second female finisher behind SSC’s Sophia Gauran and Jinju Thompson, who had similar times of 41:19), while Ng was third.