Tsunami Saipan proud of top, up-and-coming swimmers


Tsunami Saipan Swimming Center members pose for a group photo after a recent practice. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Tsunami Saipan Swimming Center had a lot of success with a number of their members representing the CNMI in off-island competitions last year.

However, head coach Hiroyuki Kimura isn’t only proud of how their top swimmers performed in international meets, but also how their younger swimmers have developed in 2022.

“Tsunami top swimmers showed high performance in the two big competitions—the FINA World Championships in Budapest and Melbourne—where we marked 11 NMI records and Isaiah Aleksenko got 682 FINA points which is the highest points for an NMI swimmer ever.”

In a way though, he gets as much satisfaction in his swimmers breaking records with how the rest of Tsunami Saipan and its 67 members have progressed last year. 

“Our advanced junior class—named the  Ikusei Class—has a lot of young swimmers, aged around 7-11. Some of them are ready to go on off-island meets because they almost reached BB time (U.S. motivational time). I’m so glad for their big improvement this year. We believe the most important matter for NMI swimming is not only about top swimmer’s performance but also raising the next generations.”

Kimura said the next challenge for local swimmers now is to continue to develop despite Saipan having no competition pool since the Marpi pool closed several years ago.

“Currently, we don’t have any competition pool. It means we can’t hold a swim meet that is the most necessary for young swimmers to keep/raise their motivation for swimming. It’s so hard for a competitive swim club. But we can’t change this situation. So, we have to try raising up the next generations with the current circumstance. This is such a big challenge for Tsunami Saipan.”

For 2023, Kimura said Tsunami Saipan swimmers are setting their sights on representing the CNMI again in the Micronesian Games in the Marshall Islands, the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands, and the FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

He’s also trying to arrange Tsunami Saipan swimmers to take part in swim camps and meets in Taiwan and Japan, respectively, after forming good relationships with fellow coaches from the two countries during the FINA World Championships in Melbourne last month.

Locally, Tsunami Saipan is planning to have monthly unofficial swim meets to help the younger swimmers become better in the sport. 

“As children level up, their swimming practice will gradually become harder. It’s going to be more painful than fun. However, when they overcome it and move on to the next stage, the children grow up. Their faces will change noticeably. And the teammates who overcame the hard practice together will be a lifetime treasure. I am happiest as a coach to be able to be there for the children.”

Kimura also said Tsunami Saipan would like to extend their sincere appreciation to the following: the Tan family (Jerry, Lydia, and Tania), the Northern Mariana Island Swimming Federation (president Colin Thompson, vice president John Hirsh, and coaches Richard Sikkel and Valrich Welch), Pacific Islands Club Saipan, Tsunami Saipan parents, especially Beth Nunez, and last but not the least his wife Yuko and their two sons—Shin and Kensuke, both former CNMI national swimmers.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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