Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan members are beating the odds, as they continue to show significant improvements at these trying times.
Left without a standard pool for practice since the closure of the Kan Pacific Swimming Pool in October 2018, Tsunami Saipan swimmers train at a private facility in small groups and limited time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite these challenges, Tsunami Saipan head coach Hiro Kimura said they are proud of what their swimmers have accomplished, particularly the impressive marks they set in a recent time trial.
Kimura said several Tsunami Saipan members recorded outstanding times in their respective events. The club practices in private pool that measures about 19 meters and Kimura converted their times in U.S. standard mark based on a 50-meter pool to determine their progress.
Twelve-year-old Kouki Watanabe is among the swimmers that have shown great improvement in the past months. Also on the list of Tsunami Saipan’s notable members are Kaya Braxton, Maria Guerrero, Richard Zhao, Sharma Barman, Juhn Tenorio, Jinnosuke Suzuki, Isaiah Aleksenko, and Kean Pajarillaga.
Watanabe, according to Kimura, marked AAA times in 50m and 100m breaststroke, while the 10-year-old Braxton has earned BB times in eight events. The 9-year-old Guerrero has accomplished BB times in seven events, while 10-year-old Richard Zhao got the same standard in six events.
“Maria and Richard does not have experience in swimming in official meet because they only started swimming after the Marpi pool close. However, they are doing really well and giving our next generation of swimmers a bright future,” Kimura said.
Another swimmer who has yet to compete in an official meet, but has proven that she belongs to the pool is 8-year-old Shana Barman. The youngest participant in last month’s time trial got a BB time in the 50m backstroke.
Meanwhile, Tsunami Saipan’s top-level swimmers—Suzuki, Aleksenko, Pajarillaga, and Tenorio— are living up to expectations as they keep on showing steady performances during practices and the team trials.
“They are steadily gaining strength,” Kimura said.” All were medalists in the first Micronesian Swimming Championships held last year in Palau.”
The Tsunami Saipan coach added that Tenorio’s times in three backstroke events (trials) when converted into the 50m, 100, and 200m could earn him CNMI national records (national marks are only considered official when done in a standard 50-meter pool).
“He’s amazing. In 2014, Kensuke Kimura marked three CNMI nationals record in backstroke during the Oceania Championships in New Zealand. At that time, Kensuke was 18 years old. Juhn is still 16 and hopefully has chances to update the CNMI national marks,” Kimura said.
Tsunami Saipan swimmers will continue to train amid the pandemic and the lack of a standard pool, but they are hoping to compete in an official meet when it is safe to do so. The club’s every practice session is limited to 12 swimmers in observance of the social distancing rule and other safety precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic.