CNMI Sports Hall of Famer Bill Sakovich was handed a crystal trophy by the Organization of Sports Federations of Oceania after being named as “Father of Swimming in the Pacific.”
“I was given a nice crystal trophy from OSFO. It covers all sports and swimming is only one. The selection was done by members of the Oceania Swimming Association and all were present during the meeting held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea last month. It was an award for my selection as ‘Father of Swimming in the Pacific,’” he said.
“The president of Oceania Swimming and member of FINA Executive Committee, Dennis Miller, made the presentation,” Sakovich told Saipan Tribune upon his return to Hawaii last week after leading the island’s swimmers in the 12th Oceania Swimming Championships that ran from June 25 to 30.
The United Nations recognized Sakovich as the “Father of Swimming in the Pacific” in December last year, in honor of his more than four decades of helping develop the sport and its athletes in the region.
The Saipan Swim Club founder could not think of anyone to dedicate the recognitions he got, but thanked the swimmers and coaches he has worked with in the last 40-plus years.
“I never thought of who I would dedicate the award to and instead I would like to say thanks to all the swimmers and coaches whom I have worked with the past 44 years. It is a great feeling to have high school swimmers who really could not swim four years ago, compete, win ribbons, and go on to college and swim. I am in touch with many of them, and many more sent me messages once the word got out. I have put a lot into it and I am thankful many are very appreciative of my work,” the septuagenarian said.
He has nothing to prove with all the work he has done in the Pacific, but Sakovich and his wife, Jeannie, have no plans of slowing down.
“Because I still enjoy it, and feel the rewards when swimmers complete their four years of high school swimming, whether they go on to swim or not. I think swimming is tough, requires a lot of time and many sacrifices, and swimmers learn from this and keep it the rest of their lives,” he said.
“When we returned to Hawaii I continued coaching clubs, and started coaching high school. Last year, Jeannie and I dropped club coaching, although we both volunteer when the other teams here need short term help. But basically, I concentrate on my Waiakea High School swim team coaching. I do have time for other activities such as outrigger canoe paddling and conducting swim clinics in the Pacific islands. Fortunately high school coaching is mostly from late August thru January, and paddling is during the spring and summer,” the former Northern Mariana Sports Association head said.