8th Micronesian Games
Since I am a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), I was able to swim in the Micronesian Games in the summer of 2014. They took place on Pohnpei. A large number of island countries, territories, and states participate in the Games. Going from west to east, I think they are: Palau, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Nauru. I swam for Chuuk, one of the four states of the FSM. The pool was 25 meters long.
I was only 12 years old and was swimming against adults. There was an Olympian from Pohnpei and, I think, one or two from Guam as well. Of course, they weren't Olympic champions but they were still pretty good. The Micronesia Games is kind of a mini Olympics for Micronesia. My brother Bruce and I were the only swimmers from Chuuk! Chuuk has no pool right now so no one there trains. It is up to us citizens who live far away to return home to compete at these events.
Even though I was one of the youngest swimmers there, I still qualified for finals in a number of events. In fact, in the 100 meter breast stroke, I missed a bronze medal by a few hundredths of a second!
The next Micronesian Games will be on Yap in 2018. I can't wait!
12th Oceania Swimming Championships
The Oceania Championships took place in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, from June 25 -30, 2018. So, four years passed since the previous international event that I competed in. Unfortunately, the 9th Micronesian Games, that took place on Yap in 2018, didn't include swimming because there is no pool there (they did have open water competition).
The Oceania Championships is a big deal as almost all countries in the Pacific are represented. There were some large countries with Olympic class swimmers as well as smaller countries like the FSM (that I represented) with swimmers that are a lot slower. Here's a list of the countries that were there: American Samoa, FSM, New Zealand, Samoa, Australia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Hawaii, Palau, Tonga, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu. A few of them, like Hawaii, aren't really countries.
There were eight of us on the FSM team. Tasi Limtiaco is half Chuukese like me and lives on Guam. I live in New York. The remaining six team members all live on Pohnpei. There is some Chuukese blood in many of them too! I learned from my mom that she and Tasi's mom are cousins! So, I was very happy to be able to swim with a cousin (that I met for the first time!) at the meet.
This was a long course meet and I competed in the following events: 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly, and 100 fly. Although I didn't beat any of my previous personal bests, I was still able to do better than the other female swimmers on the FSM team. This had the wonderful result of qualifying me to represent the FSM in the Youth Olympic Games coming up in Argentina in October as well as the FINA Short Course World Championships coming up in China in December! Competing in the Olympics is a real honor as only one FSM swimmer will be there. There will be four FSM swimmers at the FINA meet (two female and two male). So, this meet was an extremely important one as it served as the qualifier for many extremely important future meets.
By the way, my time of 32.0 seconds for the 50 meter fly was good enough to be a new record for the FSM. Locally, at the Norwich YMCA Dolphins or at the High School Varsity, we don't have this event. So, I don't really know if this is good or bad for me! But, I think that I'll start keeping records of my metric times from now on...
Although I didn't win any medals, I did manage to make it into the finals in all my events except the 50 free. So, I am OK with that. I'll keep training hard and will do better next time around!
3rd Summer Youth Olympic Games
The Youth Olympic Games took place from October 6 through 18, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was SO fortunate to be able to represent the FSM at the Games. What an event! An entire city was built to accommodate it. The opening ceremony closed down the main street of Buenos Aires and, to a country girl like me, it looked like the entire city was there to watch the festivities. I was honored to be the flag bearer for the small FSM contingent that was at the Games. There were only three of us. In addition to myself there was a wrestler from Yap and a runner from Chuuk. Both of them live on Guam.
I participated in my two favorite events: the 50 fly and the 50 free. Like the Oceania Swimming Championships in Papua New Guinea, the competition was also in a 50 meter pool. Not my favorite; but that's the way it is in Olympic competition. I didn't do as well as I wanted to in either event. I had hoped to make personal bests with times that, when converted to yards, would be better than my performance at home in New York. But, no luck on that. However, on the 50 free, with a time of 29.8, I made a new record for that event for the FSM. That made me feel good. And, the way things worked out, I won my heat for that event. That felt good too! The Pacific Daily News interviewed me following that event and that made me even feel better! So, even though I didn't make a personal best, I was pretty psyched up by the time the Games were over.
One of the neatest things about the Games was the opportunity to meet with athletes from all over the world. Every effort was made to encourage athletes to do this and I made a number of friends --- even from countries that I never knew existed before! No one that I met had heard of the FSM!
Here's a link to the interview I had after my heat in the 50 free.
14th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m)
The FINA Championships took place from December 11 through December 16 in Hangzhou, China. I was one of four swimmers from the FSM who competed --- two male and two female. Needless to say, it was quite an adventure to go to China! The trip, itself, was crazy. It seems that, at each of these international meets that I participate in, I travel farther and farther from home --- on my own. I guess that it's impossible to go father than China. My Dad says that I'm qualified to go almost anywhere now. However, I didn't quite do things by myself as I met the rest of the FSM team on Guam (still US soil) and then proceeded to China with them (and let the coach who went with us take care of immigration and all that kind of stuff).
The meet, itself, was amazing. To be honest, the most exciting thing for me was to meet some of my swimming idols. Since it was a World Championship, almost EVERYONE was there. It was so great to be able to watch them in action live. I am truly inspired now. I was so fortunate to be able to attend this meet.
As far as I'm concerned, I did OK, I guess. As has become my custom, I competed in the 50 free and 50 butterfly. Once again, I didn't make a personal best. However, I did manage to set FSM records in both these events, So, now I am the FSM record holder for the 50 free and 50 fly in both the 25m and 50m pools. The next meet I participate in, I am determined to make a personal best! That will really be a record to be proud of. I think that part of the problem is jet lag. Maybe it's just an excuse. But, it always takes a number of days to feel normal in the pool.
I hope that I'll qualify for the 50m FINA World Championships coming up in Korea this summer. Maybe I'll do better then!
2019 FSM National Swimming Championships and Swimming Qualifier for the 18th FINA World Championships
This was a very small meet; only the members of the FSM swim team were involved. It took place on Pohnpei on February 8 and 9, 2019. The purpose of the meet was to see who would represent the FSM at the forthcoming FINA long course World Championships to be held in Korea in the summer of 2019. Just like at the recent FINA short course World Championships that took place in China, Taeyanna and I again qualified to represent the FSM. Also, Tashi and Kaleo will again be the male FSM swimmers. I won all my events at the qualifier. However, some of them were VERY close. I will have to train hard if I expect to be able to continue to be at the top of the pack for the FSM.
I was disappointed at my time for the 50 freestyle. It only converts to around 26.90 in the 25 yard pool whereas I have done a 25.50 in the past and even a split time of 25.2. I have to work on that. On the bright side, it looks like my 100 freestyle time of 1:04.41 and my 100 butterfly time of 1:12.84 might be FSM records. In fact, I was surprised and happy to learn that, when converted to a 25 yard pool, my time for the 100 freestyle is a personal best. It's about time for that!
Well, aside from all these numbers, it was great to get to warm Pohnpei away from the lousy New York winter weather. I stayed with the Kihleng family and couldn't have asked for kinder hosts. Kelao, the male qualifier for the summer FINA meet, is a member of this family, as is Kestra, a very good female swimmer a year or so younger than me. It was wonderful to spend time with the Kihlengs --- not to mention time spent with other members of the team. All of them are now close friends.
18th FINA World Swimming Championships (50m)
The 18th FINA World Swimming Championships was held in Gwanju, South Korea, from July 12 to July 29, 2019. I was one of the four FSM team members that participated in the meet. We are the same group of four that participated in the FINA meet in China in 2018.
Before the meet, the FSM coach arranged for us to have a week long swimming camp at the very luxurious Leo Palace Resort on Guam. That was a lot of fun. A few additional team members, beside the four that would go on to Korea, attended the camp. A sepcial benefit of the camp for me was that it helped me to recover from jet lag! Travelling from New York to the other side of the world reallly messes up a person's biological clock. It was far better for me to adjust at the swim camp rather than at the actual meet. My Dad lived on Guam for 15 years or so in the 1970s and 1980s and I had a chance to meet with one of his old buddies (that my brother is named after). That was interesting...
I did OK at the meet and my time in the 50 free turned out to be 29.8, exactly the same as I did at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018. I won my heat which felt good. Maybe if the heat was faster, I would have done a little better. I had hoped to do less than 29 and thought I was ready for this as I had trained very hard fro the meet. But that's the way things go. My female teammate, Taeyanna, who is a breast stroker, did very well in her event. For better or for worse, she came out a few hundredths of a percent better than me in the scoring system that the team uses and she will be the female swimmer to represent the FSM in the 2020 Olympics coming up in Japan next year. So, that means I will have four years in college to train even harder so that I will go to the next Olympics coming up in 2024!
Maybe the best thing about these World Swimming Championships meets is that I get the opportunity to see and, in a few cases, chat with some of my swimming idols! Kaleo, one of my male teammates, photographed me with Nathan Adrian and he said that I looked as though my heart had stopped beating. My Dad said it would have been equivalent to him being photographed with Marilyn Monroe!