Photo: Philippine Aquatics technical head Richard Luna poses with Secretary General Batangas 1st District Congressman Eric Buhain (center) and Executive Director Chito Rivera (right).
A lean but mean Philippine swimming team will leave for Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday (August 22) to participate in the 45th Southeast Asian Age Group Aquatics Championship scheduled for August 24-26.
Led by last year’s double gold medal winner Jamesray Ajido and 2022 World Junior Championship campaigner Amina Isabelle Bungubung, the 19 swimmers including two US-based Filipino-foreigners formed through intensive National tryouts conducted by the new Philippine Aquatics leadership led by president Miko Vargas and Secretary- General Batangas 1st District Congressman Eric Buhain.
“We are sending a lean team but with a high chance of winning medals for our country. This is the first SEA Age Group team under the new administration of Philippine Aquatics. On behalf of our President Michael Vargas, we are proud of our team, and we are very happy that swimming is very active nationwide given the diversity of hometowns of our team,” said Buhain, a two-time Olympian swimming icon, and Philippine Sports Hall-of-Famer.
Aside from Ajido and Bungubung who both come from Quezon City, the team also includes Mishka Sy, Jalid Taguinod; Makati City pride Ivo Nikolai Enot, Joshua Park from Paranaque City, Aishel Evangelista from Caloocan City, Estifano Ramos and Lance Rafael Cruz from Manila, Patricia Mae Santor and Shairinne Floriano from Antipolo City, as well as Peter Cyrus Dean from Quezon Province.
The team also includes Jie Angela Mikaela Talosig from Midsayap, North Cotabato; Catherine Cruz represented Mabalacat, Pampanga, Arabella Taguinota came from Pasig City, while Bea Mabalay and Jennuel Boo De Leon both came from Aklan. Also joining the team are US-based Filipino foreigners Clark Kent Apuada and Ava Samantha Bautista.
The four young divers aged 12 to 15 will be guided by coach Marie Dimanche.
Buhain appointed Ramil Ilustre as swimming head coach, along with assistants Cyrus Alcantara, Manuel De Leon Mark Pido, and Wilfredo Cruz, while Chito Rivera was head of delegation and coach Anthony Reyes as his deputy.
“Lean but quality team. It’s a smaller team compared to last year, but it’s all competitive because they’re all qualified in the qualifying time standard set during the National tryouts. Hopefully, they land all in the top eight and podium finish. We are hoping for the best, expectations are high for the new leadership, so please pray for the whole team,” said Rivera, also the Executive Director of Philippine Aquatics.