By Coach Emer Matienzo
Manila, Philippines – October 16, 2023
In a breathtaking display of aquatic prowess, the Teofilo Yldefonso Swimming Pool at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila was the epicenter of the Philippine Aquatics National Age Group Swimming Championship – Luzon. This prestigious three-day event, held from October 13 to 15, 2023, attracted top-tier swimmers from across the region, setting the stage for their journey to the 11th Asian Age Group Swimming Championship in New Clark City, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines, scheduled for December 3 to 6, 2023.
The Luzon championship, along with its South Luzon and Visayas/Mindanao counterparts, serves as a critical qualifying competition, determining who among these aquatic prodigies will have the honor of representing the Philippines on the Asian stage. Swimmers must achieve a remarkable 700 World Aquatics (WA) points and secure a spot within the top two best times in each event of the combined results from the Luzon, South Luzon, and Visayas/Mindanao qualifying competition to qualify.
The age-group categories for the meet were divided into 12 – 14, 15 – 17, and 18 and over, encompassing both male and female swimmers. This elite competition culminated with the selection of 8 boys and girls from each age group, with the exception of the 18 and over category, which accommodated only 6 boys and 6 girls.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, as swimmers who secure their place in the 11th Asian Age Group Championship 2023 will enjoy the backing of Philippine Aquatics, encompassing local transportation from NAIA or Clark Airport to the competition venue, team uniforms, accommodation, food, and a cash allowance. The promise of international recognition and the chance to bring glory to their nation beckoned swimmers from across the globe.
Among the competitors were distinguished names like Chloe Isleta, an ASEAN Games gold medalist, fresh from her 19th ASIAN Games competition in Hangzhou, China, and Heather White, who flew in from Vietnam to participate. The roster also included Arabella Taguinota, Reuben Vista, and Jasmine Mojdeh, the latter planning to return to Seattle after the games.
Congressman Eric Buhain, Secretary General of Philippine Aquatics, graced the competition on its third day, sharing inspirational words with the participants in the morning and adorning medalists with their well-deserved honors in the afternoon.
Recognizing excellence, the event awarded High Point Awardees (MOS) in different age groups. In the 12-14 category, Liv Abigale Florendo of One Ilocos Sur Aqua Profellers accumulated 207 points, while Jamesrey Mishael Ajido of QCSC Bucaneers Swim Club emerged as the top scorer with 270 points. The 15-17 age group saw Heather White of Behrouz Elite Swim Team securing 171 points, while Paolo Miguel Labanon of RASA Wavemakers clinched the male category with 201 points. For the 18 and over age group, Mishka Sy of QCSC Bucaneers Swim Club led the females with 183 points, and Miguel Barreto of Ayala Harpoons Swim Club took the top spot among males with 120 points.
The team rankings added another layer of excitement to the competition, with Ayala Harpoons, amassing an impressive 1218 points, claiming the top position. QCSC Bucaneers Swim Club closely followed with 1155 points, while Rising Atlantis Swim Club secured the third spot with 639 points.
The Philippine Aquatics National Age Group Swimming Championship – Luzon has not only showcased the incredible talent of the nation’s young swimmers but has also set the stage for their journey to the prestigious 11th Asian Age Group Swimming Championship. As they gear up for the next challenge, these athletes continue to inspire and make their mark on the world of aquatic sports.