Swimmers show resiliency

Saipan Swim Club coach Jacoby Winkfield watches swimmers do practice laps in the waters off Civic Center in Susupe during a training session yesterday. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The closure of the Kan Pacific Swimming Pool will not stop Saipan Swim Club members from training and improving their skills.

After holding their last practice at the 50-meter pool in Marpi last Friday, SSC started working on their strokes in the open waters off Civic Center in Susupe yesterday.

“The kids are resilient. They know they have to continue swimming and move forward and let the adults resolve the problems with the pool. It’s not ideal (practicing in the ocean), but ocean swim has a lot on benefits, like improving endurance and cardio. Plus, open water is getting a big following in the world, so our swimmers can take a break from the pool and improve their ocean swim skills,” SSC coach Jacoby Winkfield told Saipan Tribune yesterday during a break in their first open water swim session.

“There’s no excuse to stop swimming and the kids know that. We are surrounded with water and we just have to make use of what’s available for now. We can’t stop because we might lose momentum and eventually swimmers will stop coming and the program will suffer,” the SSC coach added.

Winkfield said it will be business as usual for SSC, as the club will hold its regular practices from Monday to Friday, beginning at 4pm, while swim lessons will still be offered every Tuesday and Thursday. Despite keeping their training schedule and moving to a new venue, the SSC coach hopes that the issue on the pool will be settled, soon.

“The CNMI will be sending four swimmers to the World Championships in China in December. It is a short course tournament, so turns, start, and speed are crucial and we need a pool to work on those things,” Winkfield said.

“We will look for pools in the hotel and hopefully they will allow us to use the facility. It’s logistically hard using the pools at hotels because of the liability issues and hotels have guests to attend to, but we really need some pool time in December,” added Winkfield.

For now, the SSC official is just proud that their swimmers are not giving up and remain positive.

“The kids are out here, doing the same things they are doing in the pool before. It’s us the adults and leaders who need to figure out things to help our kids become successful. We can’t be the ones holding them back from doing things they are good at. I understand that the situation is complicated, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will come up with the solution soon,” Winkfield.

Kan Pacific’s extension of lease agreement with the government expired last Sunday, leaving the Marpi pool and other facilities under the company’s care closed. Last week, the Commonwealth Lottery Commission approved Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s request to take over the facilities under Kan Pacific’s management, including the Olympic-sized pool. However, as of yesterday afternoon, Winkfield said they haven’t heard anything about the pool from the concerned parties.

Despite the uncertainty over the pool, Jinju Thompson and Lennosuke Suzuki vowed to keep working to prepare for competitions and encourage swimmers to remain in the program.

“It’s unfortunate that the pool closed, but we have the ocean—there’s a big place to practice. We will train here until the pool reopens,” Thompson said.

“I hope it will be soon, as although we can still practice here (ocean), there are certain things we need to work on and they can only be done at thepool,” Suzuki said.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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