Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan has nominated four members to represent the team in the qualifiers for the 2021 FINA World Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates this coming December.
Tsunami Saipan coach Hiro Kimura has picked Juhn Tenorio, Jinnosuke Suzuki, Aoi Braxton, and Shoko Litulumar to swim in the 1,000m open water swim set for July 10 that will serve as the first of three qualifiers for the FINA World Championships.
Aside from July 10, the Saipan Swim Club will also hold qualifying open water swims on July 24 and Sept. 25. The three qualifiers are sanctioned by the Northern Mariana Islands Swimming Federation and are collectively called the Triple Crown Open Water Swim Series.
Kimura said the choice of Tenorio and Suzuki was easy to make.
“Juhn Tenorio and Jinnosuke Suzuki have a lot of current CNMI age group records. After no more Marpi pool, we don’t have swim meets here, but if we have a swim meet, these both high-level swimmers would’ve broken a lot of CNMI record without fail,” he said.
Braxton and Litulumar, meanwhile, are up-and-coming swimmers that Kimura said he could no longer ignore.
“Aoi Braxton and Shoko Litulumar haven’t broken records yet. However, Braxton is already so close to the CNMI record for backstroke. If it is conversion time, she might have broken many CNMI records already. Litulumar is such a hard worker, I’m sure she will break some CNMI records soon as well,” he added.
Kimura said even though Tsunami Saipan has only been training in a non-Olympic swimming pool, he converts his wards’ time in the non-regulation pool to official pool time and continues to use FINA points.
“Every time trial, we convert all results to official pool time. Not only that conversion but also FINA points, we calculate it. We depend on FINA points a lot,” he said.
Using those calculations, Tenorio had 620 points in the 100m backstroke, while Suzuki had 613 points in the 200m freestyle. Litulumar and Braxton, meanwhile, have so far managed 469 and 452 points, respectively, according to Kimura.
Kimura also bared that before sustaining an injury training for a track and field competition, Litulumar’s older sister, Asaka, was in line to represent Tsunami Saipan in the qualifiers for the FINA World Championships.
“She had an injury from track and field and is still under rehabilitation. This time, as alternate of Asaka her younger sister, Shoko, will swim. Shoko is the third highest FINA point-getter among Tsunami Saipan girls,” he said.
Hope springs eternal for the elder Litulumar though, as Kimura said Asaka may still suit up in the second open water qualifier if her health continues to improve.
“Next qualifier, Asaka will swim because Asaka is the No. 1 female sprinter in the CNMI right now,” said the Tsunami Saipan coach.