After several weeks of on-again and off-again closures at the Hagåtña Pool, the Guam Swimming Federation on Saturday successfully held its All-Island Short Course Meet.
“This is the first short course meet scheduled at the Hagåtña pool for the swim season 2019-2020,” said Tim Fedenko, GSF secretary. “We had scheduled, since September, two meets per month, but those were canceled due to the pool closure.”
“It’s vital that they (the athletes) have a functioning pool,” he said. “This is the only regulation swimming pool that they can train in.”
The pool, which hosts youth team practices and meets, as well as fitness classes and children's swim courses, has had recurring maintenance issues, prompting its closure.
In October 2019, a fecal event caused a short closure.
It also closed to the public in November 2018 and was able to reopen months later in March 2019 after a leak and a $500,000 water bill were resolved.
With the 2020 Summer Games coming soon in Tokyo, Japan, the lack of a proper facility has been a burden for Guam's Olympic hopefuls.
“This is the only one where they can train long course for the upcoming Olympics,” Fedenko said. “For them - to even have a chance at a medal, which they do - they need to have that pool.”
With over 100 young athletes competing in 13 events, Manhoben Swim Club, Andersen Marlins, Tsunami Swim Club, Manukai Athletic Club, and Guam Typhoonz Swim Club took part in the races.
“It’s great to be back at the Agana pool, and we continue to be impressed by our swimmers and the results of today’s meet,” said GSF head coach Don San Agustin. “Ending the year on this high note gives us motivation to continue to excel in the new year, and (as we) look ahead to long course swim meets.”
Manhoben dominates freestyle - top results
Mia Lee, in 57.77 seconds, competing in the Female Division 100-yard Freestyle, claimed first place. Mineri Gomez, 18, in 59.14, placed second.
In the Male Division 100-yard Freestyle, Jaden Francis (50.33), Santiago Poppe (51.39), and Sebastian Castro (52.41) placed 1-2-3.
In the Girls 12-and-under Division, Lee (57.57), Dina Soriano (1:11.9), Amaya Bollinger (1:12.13), and Keana Santos (1:12.42) claimed the top four spots.
With outstanding performances in the Male 100-yard Breaststroke Division, Manhoben’s Sebastian Castro (1:04), Francis (1:06), and Santiago Poppe (1:10) were good enough to clinch the top three spots.
In the Male 100-yard Butterfly Division, Israel Poppe (1:01.20), and Mark Imazu (1:01.24) topped the podium.
In the Female 100-yard Butterfly Division, Gomez (1:09.79), and Lee (1:12.13) earned top honors.
Jimi Hendrix, a 17-year-old athlete, competing for Tsunami SC in the Men’s 17-18 200-yard Individual Medley Division, in 2:02.25, placed first.
“It’s nice to finally get to swim,” Hendrix said.
In late October, the GSF held a meet at Andersen Air Force Base, but Fedenko was thankful the pool was available.
“Andersen was kind enough to host us there,” he said. “The problem is, a lot of the swimmers from other teams couldn’t make it up there due to the passport situation - the security situation.”
“That was kind of a hindrance,” he said. "This is the first real meet where everybody (got) a chance to swim.”
“When we can use the pool, we’ll be having swim meets every month,” Hendrix said. “Without the pool, we’ll get, maybe, once every two months."
With many of the young swimmers competing for a first time, the athletes finally got their feet wet.
“The great thing about this event is it’s a short course event, so the youth swimmers get a chance cut their teeth in a real racing event,” Fedenko said.