'Lean but mean' Philippine swim team out to win in SEA Age Group aquatics tilt

'Lean but mean' Philippine swim team out to win in SEA Age Group aquatics tilt
Philippine Aquatics secretary general Eric Buhain

MANILA, Philippine – The 32-man Philippine delegation — composed of 19 swimmers, four divers, six coaches and three officials — will leave for Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday to participate in the 45th Southeast Asian Age Group Aquatics Championship slated August 24-26.

Jamesray Ajido, the national junior record holder in the 13-under class, and 2022 World Junior Championship campaigner Amina Isabelle Bungubung will lead the team that was formed through intensive tryouts by the new Philippine Aquatics leadership led by president Miko Vargas and secretary general Eric Buhain.

"We are sending a lean team but with a high chance of winning medals for our country. This is the first SEA Age Group team under the new administration of Philippine Aquatics. On behalf of our President Michael Vargas, we are proud of our team, and we are very happy that swimming is very active nationwide given the diversity of hometowns of our team," said Buhain, a two-time Olympian, and congressman of the 1st District of Batangas.

Aside from Ajido and Bungubung, who both come from Quezon City, the team also includes Mishka Sy, Jalid Taguinod; Makati City pride Ivo Nikolai Enot, Joshua Park from Paranaque City, Aishel Evangelista from Caloocan City, Estifano Ramos and Lance Rafael Cruz from Manila, Patricia Mae Santor and Shairinne Floriano from Antipolo City, as well as Peter Cyrus Dean from Quezon Province.

Also in the lineup are Jie Angela Mikaela Talosig from Midsayap, North Cotabato; Catherine Cruz from Mabalacat, Pampanga; Arabella Taguinota from Pasig City; while Bea Mabalay and Jennuel Boo De Leon from Aklan; and US-based Filipino-foreigners Clark Kent Apuada and Ava Samantha Bautista.

Meanwhile, the four young divers aged 12 to 15 will be guided by coach Marie Dimanche.

Buhain appointed Ramil Ilustre as swimming head coach, along with assistants Cyrus Alcantara, Manuel De Leon Mark Pido, and Wilfredo Cruz, while Chito Rivera was head of delegation and coach Anthony Reyes as his deputy.

"Lean but quality team. It's a smaller team compared to last year, but it's all competitive because they're all qualified in the qualifying time standard set during the National tryouts. Hopefully they land all in the top eight and podium finish. We are hoping for the best, expectations are high for the new leadership, so please pray for the whole team," said Rivera, also the Executive Director of Philippine Aquatics.

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