Alonzo Acosta and Shana Barman won the 100m race of Saipan Swim Club’s Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series last July 24 in the waters off the Civic Center Beach in Susupe.
Acosta beat July 10 winner Yutaro Kitagawa with a time of 2:18.18 with the latter coming in at 2:25.02. Third place went to SSC’s Carl Licop at 2:50.96.
Kitagawa, of Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan, said he will aim for first place in the next open water swim on Sept. 25.
“I felt proud for getting second place, but my time got slower and got second. I hope I could get first place the next time.”
Barman, Tsunami Saipan’s 8-year-old wunderkind, topped the girls 100m after emerging from the surf in 2:16.89. Prashika Pandey came in second at 2:44.20 and third went to Corrie Zhai at 3:06.92.
“I swam 100m race again. It would be harder to swim than last time because of choking, but it was easier when I swam back to the beach. I think I became tough through this ocean swim race,” he said.
SSC coach Richard Sikkel admitted that the Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series two Saturdays ago almost got cancelled because of rough sea conditions.
“We had some challenging conditions and it’s good for these swimmers to experience this, but it was challenging to keep the course in place. It was good we pulled it off. A total of 110 signed up but don’t know how many actually swam.”
Sikkel said the next open water swim will be held on Sept. 25 because there are swimmers who are still off-island. “Hopefully they’ll be back by that time.”
Tsunami Saipan coach Hiro Kimura thanked Sikkel, Northern Mariana Islands Swim Federation president Colin Thompson, vice president John Hirsh, and board member Val Welch for holding the event.
“Without the efforts of these people, the Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series wouldn’t have been held. I really respect these gentlemen. Competition in the pool had been non-existent since the Marpi pool’s closure in 2018. Add to this the situation brought about by the COVID-19. Despite these, they were still able to stage two events last month.”
He also thanked 500 Sails’ Emma and Peter Perez and Korean Masters Swimmers’ Chong Nam Lee for helping out in the twin open water swims.
“Especially on July 24 when weather was not good. It never stopped raining and strong wind blowing early in the morning. If without their support and the facility, the situation for us would’ve gotten worse. I hope that we can maintain a better relationship as a CNMI swimming community in the future,” added Kimura.
The Tsunami Saipan coach said he and his swimmers are already looking forward to the third and final installment of the ocean water swim.
“We will try our best to conduct the final race of Triple Crown Open water Swim Series on Sept. 25. I wish more of our young swimmers participate than the last two races.”
NMISF’s Thompson acknowledged everyone who made the swim last July 24 possible despite the inclement weather. “Early this morning there were some squalls that came through and we delayed and there were some questions about whether we can go forward. Some of the buoys were moving but really everybody worked together. Thanks to all the volunteers and the lifeguards. It went off very well and it was a successful event.”
Aside from swimmers from SSC, Tsunami Saipan, and Korean Masters Swimmers other clubs who took part in the event were swimmers from Agape Christian School and Dolphin Swim Club.
The Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series was sanctioned by NMISF and is the second of three events, which main purpose is to choose four swimmers (top two men and top two women) that will represent the CNMI in the 2021 FINA World Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates this coming December.