For the Saipan Swim Club, the new normal doesn’t only pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the former Kan Pacific Swimming Pool entering its 31st month of being closed, SSC swimmers have to make do with the small pool at Green Flash Dive and the occasional dip in the ocean.
SSC coach Richard Sikkel said despite the closure of the Marpi pool the swim club continues to have a lot of new members. “We’re going strong. Currently, we have 40-45 swimmers. SSC trains four days a week at Green Flash Dive for the younger swimmers, the older swimmers swim exclusively in the ocean,” he told Saipan Tribune.
He said while swimming in the ocean comes with challenges such as current and low tide, it also gives his swimmers the opportunity to change the routine and has kept practices exciting.
“Aside from the 50m back and forth, we do underwater workouts, long distances practices, laps around the tanks is a regular swim, and we also swam from the Garapan Fishing Base to Sugar Dock,” he said.
Sikkel added that last weekend he and his swimmers swam from Eastbay to the Lao Lao Dive Beach and did some cliff-jumping before and after practice.
“Seeing how self-motivated the swimmers are motivates me to keep their practices fresh and change it up more. The swimmers end up swimming hard and have fun at the same time,” he said.
And speaking of open water swims, Sikkel is planning to revive the Escape from Managaha by the end of May or early June if the tides cooperate. But the ultimate goal, he said, is to have his swimmers back training at the Marpi pool.
“I am not sure what is happening with the Marpi pool. We had some great momentum getting the pool up and running right before COVID-19 and then it just petered out. We are still hopeful that one day we can use the Marpi pool again. A lot of our swimmers have never swam at the Marpi pool or can barely remember swimming at the pool. The older swimmers miss the consistency of swimming in a 50m pool, but the ocean is the new normal and they have adjusted very well,” he said.
Marpi pool or not, Sikkel assured that SSC has not waned in training their swimmers for local and off-island competitions he hopes one day will return when everything goes back to normal.
“All the swimmers have been keeping up their skills and improving stamina and we look forward to off-island competitions to start up again in the near future. Swimming is not included in the list of sports for the [Pacific] Mini Games, however with triathlon being one of the sports, the long-distance open ocean swim would be a good crossover event to be added.”
Sikkel also encouraged everyone to take up swimming to keep fit and safe around the water. Lest anyone forgets, Saipan is surrounded by water.
“For anyone wanting to swim, beside SSC there are several good swim programs around, check them out. Swimming is a great way to stay fit,” he said.