Oceania swimmers experiencing the big time19 January 2013
SWIMMING: The swimmers representing Combined Oceania are competing in their first Australian Youth Olympic Festival and have already gained much from the experience.
Tahitian Maruiki Aitami, 16, has been training two hours a day, six days a week in the lead up to the competition.
In contrast to Australia’s sophisticated facilities and the pool where the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were held, the Oceania team has been preparing in a 50-metre outdoor pool.
Resource limitations of this kind have not dramatically hindered the team, with Aitami finishing third in the first heat of the 100 metre freestyle.
Although Combined Oceania is still certainly a team in development this is not their first appearance on the international stage.
Ken Kimura, whose homeland of the Northern Mariana Islands has a population of less than 60,000 last year competed in the Junior World Championships in Turkey.
“Not many people at all swim where I am from,” Kimura said.
With these backgrounds, that do not nurture competitive swimming nearly as much as other nations, it is especially admirable that Kimura and Aitami have approached the sport and the festival with such enthusiasm and determination.
Kimura has taken on a heavy load competing in events across individual medley, the breaststroke and freestyle races.
A strong Australian side has prevented them from much success but winning medals was never the first priority of the Oceania team.
“I just want to get some experience and set some good times,” Aitami said in relation to his ambitions and intentions for the tournament.
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