RP tankers all primed up for ’05 SEAG
- Lito Tacujan () - August 21, 2004 - 12:00am
ATHENS (Via Globe Telecom) — Filipino swimmers capped their Athens Games stint with only two records to show but drew the needed experience and exposure for future Olympics and the regional war next year — the Manila Southeast Asian Games.

"This team has so much talent to be tapped and it will form the nucleus of the squad that will compete in next year’s Southeast Asian Games," said Philippine Sports Commission chair Eric Buhain, himself a former Olympian.

Miguel Mendoza ended the Filipino tankers’ Athens participation in a disappointing note, finishing 34th and last in the 1,500-m freestyle and failing to break the national mark in his favorite event.

"This is practically a young group, a young team but they performed as expected although the Philippine records didn’t come. This is a good kick — off for the SEA Games," said Chito Rivera, PASA secretary-general.

Only two of the five national swimmers — Mendoza, Miguel Molina, Jaclyn Pangilinan, J. B. Walsh and Timmy Chua — were able to set national records despite high level of competition they went through.

Pangilinan, a pretty Harvard-bound Fil-Am, clocked 1:12.47 and 2:33.38 in the 100-m and the 200-m breaststroke, respectively, while Molina submitted 2:19.19 in the 200-m breaststroke.

Molina erased Lee Concepcion’s 12-year-old record of 2:20.37 while Pangilinan bettered her own marks of 1:12.82 and 2:35.01. She also surpassed her personal best of 2:34 in the 200-m breaststroke.

While they didn’t create a stir in this top-calibered event, they could be a force to reckon with when the nation attempts to wrest the overall crown in next year’s SEA Games.

"We’re very happy with their performance and at this stage they’re a cinch to win seven golds in the SEA Games next year or match our 10-gold performance in 1991," said Buhain.

"Matigas ito sa
SEA Games (It will be tough in the SEA Games). This being the highest level of competition, they will have a lot of confidence next year," said Rivera.

The 22-year-old Mendoza proved to be a disappointment as he closed out the RP swimming stint, churning in a poor 16 minutes and 26.52 seconds, way below his qualifying time of 15:49.55 and his national mark of 15:46.00.

"I didn’t know what happened. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life. I knew I was better than that. I was feeling great this morning, fully rested but when I got in the water I felt nothing," said Mendoza.

The two other members of the swim team — Chua and Walsh — fared poorly in their respective events.

Chua clocked 1:06.37 in the 100 breaststroke, missing his best time of 1:04.93 while Walsh came in at 2:06.76 in the 200-m butterfly, slower than his personal best of 2:04.13.

"We did our best but I wish we could have done better," said Molina.

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