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Coach Kimura commends Battalones, Watanabe

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TSUNAMI Swim is still in awe of two of its members — Maria Batallones and Kouki Watanabe — for topping the 3k distance category of the 14th Meek & Mighty Ocean Swim event at the Kanoa Resort beach on Feb. 15.

Kouki Watanabe, second  right, with Jacoby Winkfield, Andrew Nunez and event organizers during the award ceremony of the 14th Meek & Mighty Ocean Swim at the Kanoa Resort beach on Feb. 15. 2020.
Maria Batallones, second right, poses with Sarah Vander Wal, Savita Sikkel and event organizers during the award ceremony of the 14th Meek & Mighty Ocean Swim at the Kanoa Resort beach on Feb. 15. 2020.  Contributed photos

Maria Batallones, an 11-year-old Hopwood Middle School student, started swimming at the age of 5 and has shown her worth after graduating from Coach Hiro Kimura’s special reinforcement selection class in 2016.

In 2017 she was the high point winner in the Saipan International Meet, 8 & under, girls division, and the overall champion in the 2017 Guam Championships, 8 & under, girls division.

She also participated in the 2017 and 2018 Tokyo Junior Sprint Championships where she finished 21st among 127 swimmers.

In 2018, at the Saipan International Meet and the Guam Championships, she was the high point winner.

For her latest accomplishment, she finished first in the recent Meek & Mighty event with a time of 37:14.57, beating Sarah Vander Wal and Savita Sikkel.

“Maria is the one of Tsunami’s hardest workers,” Tsunami Head Coach Hiro Kimura said. “She really does her best every practice. So, the result of the ocean swim meet was not surprising for me. We will have a big competition in May. Maria has been selected as our team representative. I expect another outstanding performance from her.”

The other 3k gold medalist in the recent ocean swim meet, Kouki Watanabe, beat Jacoby Winkfield and Andrew Nunez with a time of 38:07.09

The 11-year-old Watanabe shares a similar story with Batallones. He started swimming at the age of 5 and graduated from Coach Kimura’s special reinforcement selection class in 2016.

In the 2017 Saipan International Meet, 8 & under, boys division, he was the high point runner up. In the Guam Championships, 9 & 10, boys division, he finished 3rd overall.

Watanbe participated in the Tokyo Junior Sprint Championships in 2018, and was the high point runner up in the 2018 Saipan International Meet and Guam Championships.

“Kouki is such a talented swimmer,” Coach Kimura said. “His potential is very big. He can break several CNMI records. He hasn’t showed us yet his full ability. However, by winning the championship in the recent ocean swim, Kouki has shown that he is motivated to do better. I really look forward to seeing his performance in the next swim competition. Kouki has been selected as a team representative and is going off-island for a big competition in May. I expect him to perform well!”

Coach Kimura said he and Tsunami Swim deeply appreciate the Saipan Swim Club, Coach Richard Sikkel and Kanoa Resort for providing a great opportunity to the island’s young swimmers by holding the ocean swim event.

“I believe the two swim clubs should help each other for the future of CNMI swimming. I am confident that we will be able to build a good relationship,” Coach Kimura said.

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