It was a historic 3-days of competition as the 2022 Fiji Swimming Long Course Open Nationals came to a close today. Nine records were broken today by 3 top swimmers Hansel McCaig, Taichi Vakasama and Kelera Mudunasoko.

Hansel broke the oldest record which was the 13year record set by Carl Probert in 2009 in the Male Open 50 Free event by setting a new time of 24.02. He also broke his own records from 2020 for the Male’s 17 and Over 50 Free with a time of 23.69 and the 100 Free with a time of 52.79.

Taichi broke Epeli Rabua’s 2020 record for the Male 17 and over 50 Breast with a time of 28.81 and also broke his own records in the 100 Breast with a time of 1:01.76 and 200 Breast with a time of 2:12.54. His personal best times have qualified him for the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary which will be held in July this year. An emotional Fiji Swimming President Ben Rova while presenting a prize money of $500 to Taichi said his achievements was a historic and proud moment for Fiji Swimming.

Upcoming fourteen year old swimmer Kelera also brought her A-game to the meet clocking record breaking times to shatter 3 records set by Moana Wind in 2016.Kelera swam her personal best times of 1:15.94 in the Female 13-14 100 Breast, 2:46.32 in the 200 Breast and 1:16.46 in the Female Open 100 Breast.

Eight swimmers who made the development squad today are Vivita Bai, Manawanui Thoms, Patricia Verebasaga, Kelera Mudunasoko and Maki’uti Seruvatu. The senior squad comprises elite swimmers such as Cheyenne Rova, Rosemarie Rova, Kelera Mudunasoko, Hansel McCaig, Taichi Vakasama, Temafa Yalimaiwai and Ethan Taylor.

Technical Official Alison Browne, who has been involved with Fiji Swimming for nearly 16years, said she began as a swim coach before becoming a learn-to-swim instructor and now a technical official. She said it was great to see the swimmers back out on the water and making the most of the weekend to set personal best times and try to qualify for the upcoming international competitions.

Dolphin Swim Club Fiji Coach Master Paula Cokanasiga said he has been coaching for 20years and dolphins is his 3rd club to coach. Master Paula has been to a couple of international meets including the Oceania meet in 2018 and the Pacific Games in 2019. He said a few swimmers from the Dolphins Club were currently based in the USA doing trainings and competing in competitions in the States. Three of their swimmers competed in the Open Nationals and performed really well despite the hot and humid weather conditions and the different competition format that was introduced. “It’s been an exciting year despite COVID-19 there was a slight pause in trainings as we couldn’t access any swimming pools. “Despite that the swimmers have done really well.” Master Paula also acknowledged Fiji Swimming, its management and all the coaches for their hard work.

Seventeen-year-old Dolphins swimmer Keith Mara started swimming at 6years old. He found the competition exciting and said he trains everyday with his siblings and other young swimmers. He aims to improve on his timings and get closer to participating in other competitions and he also hopes to represent Fiji on the international arena.

Fellow Dolphins swimmer Salanieta Kunatuba was happy with her performances despite not training as much as before. She hopes to lower her 200 Backstroke time and qualify for the bronze squad in the near future.

Barracuda Club swimmer Wilson Erasito described the competition as intense with a lot of trials and effort. Swimming in the heats, semi’s and finals, he said gave swimmers a lot more chances of qualifying for the commonwealth games. His biggest competition at the meet was himself and Hansel. Wilson said he had improved on his timings during the competition. His advice to young swimmers is to show up to the pool everyday and keep working hard towards your goals.

Kelera Mudunasoko, 14, of the Barracuda Swimming Club has dreams of competing at the Commonwealth Games and the next Pacific Games 2023.

Fiji Swimming acknowledges all officials for their time, the swimmers for swimming great times, their coaches for dedicating their time to work with the swimmers and not forgetting the supporters and parents for their continued support.

Story by: Fiji Swimming (10th April, 2022)

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