Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan—like a lot of sports organizations these days—has been waiting eagerly for a proper competition. Tsunami Saipan has had some difficulty with training, as the Marpi swimming pool has been closed since 2019. Still, swimmers are determined to swim, and they’ve managed to find a regular practice pool.
And practice they have! Tsunami Saipan has been putting in hours every weekend, and coach Hiro Kimura has been tracking their progress with regular time trials. Though medals and ribbons aren’t awarded for these smaller, in-house events, competition is still fierce. Tsunami Saipan’s two-dozen-or-so students compete at a range of abilities and age groups, but at the very top, less than a second separates the best three times in nearly every category.
Representing the very fastest of Tsunami Saipan’s male students, Juhn Tenorio, Isaiah Aleksenko, and Jinnosuke Suzuki placed personal bests at this week’s time trial event. This past Tuesday saw trials for two categories, the 100m breastroke and 100m freestyle. In some cases, students improved their times by 3 seconds or more.
In the breastroke Tenorio took the fastest time of 48.11 seconds, followed closely by Suzuki at 48.29, with Aleksenko less than 2 seconds back, at 49.93. Times grew even closer in the freestyle, with Suzuki taking the lead there with a 38.41 second swim, only a hundredth of a second ahead of Tenorio at 38.42, and Aleksenko at 38.75 seconds.
On the girls’ side, Maria Batallones took top times in both 100m breastroke and 100m freestyle at 57.26 and 47.29 seconds, respectively. Shoko Litulumar placed second with 1:01.28 in the breastroke and only 0.14 seconds behind in the freestyle, with a time of 47.72. Third place in the breastroke went to Nagisa Litulumar at 1:03.03, and third in freestyle was Aoi Braxton, with 48.66. Not one had any less than their personal best on Tuesday.
Although the pool they are using isn’t regulation size—just under 25 yards, compared to a standard 50-meter lap pool—so long as they have a consistent space, they can track their progress just as well. The shorter distance doesn’t seem to be holding them back. Tenorio, one of Tsunami’s top swimmers, was asked how he liked the new lap pool.
“It’s actually pretty hard. Some people think it would be easy, because it’s shorter, but no… Here we can actually work on our turn techniques, which is harder to work on in the Marpi pool.” It makes a lot of sense. With a half-sized pool, those difficult maneuvers come twice as often.
New pools or not, Tenorio and his fellow Tsunami Saipan teammates are eager to get back into competitive swim meets against other teams like Saipan Swim Club. “I can’t wait for the next one… We’re expecting one this summer.” It’s not only island-only meets that are coming up, though. Tenorio and other top swimmers are looking to compete in Taiwan this summer. Tsunami Saipan coach Kimura seems to be preparing them well, and Tenorio, at least, is confident.
“I’m ready for that.”