Tongan swimmers lament disappointments at World Swim Champs
By Mike Marron of The Reporters’ Academy
Karzan-August 3: 1.48pm: Charissa Panuve was among the first to compete at the 16th FINA World Championships, in Kazan, in the Women’s 100m Butterfly.
After setting a time of 1:21.78 in Barcelona at the same championships two years earlier, the Tongan swimmer went on to beat that by almost three seconds in qualifying setting a national record of 1:18.99. The task of beating a personal best, let alone a national record, is challenging but the 20-year-old proved she was up to it.
After setting a reaction time amongst the top two thirds of the field, Panuve raced to a time of 33.90 at the halfway stage. She described the race as “intense”, which could be seen in the second 50m. However, she managed to continue swimming strong to clock a time of 1 minute 16.48 seconds, beating the national record she set under a month ago at the Pacific Games, in Papua New Guinea.
Her reaction was that of joy.
“I haven’t swam 100m fly in a while…it was a challenge for me but I’m happy with the result and how I performed,” she said.
She put this down to the pre-race preparation.
“My warm up was really good. I felt prepared,” she added.
There was, however, a shred of disappointment as she admitted her target was a faster time.
“I actually aimed for a 1:15,” she said, thus demonstrating her determination to race even quicker.
Lastly, she paid compliment to the World Championships.
“It’s a big difference swimming here. You’re swimming with World Class swimmers and it’s a good experience for people like us from Oceania, to have this opportunity to race against the big guys.”
Amini Fonua is an experienced campaigner at major swimming championships.
The 25 year old arrived in Russia on a high after winning the 100m Breastroke at the recent Pacific Games in Port Moresby in a Games Record time.
The swimmer is the only Tongan to have held both Oceania and Pacific Games titles.
The confidence gained over recent weeks showed itself as Amini was the first to reach the 50m turn in the 4th heat of the 100m Breastroke. He was 0.22 seconds ahead of James Lawson of Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately, this initial effort took its toll with Amini slipping back down the field to record a time of 1 minute 04.28 seconds, 1.33 seconds outside his PNG record swim. Naturally, he was a little disappointed afterwards, but remained upbeat.
“That wasn’t the best swim but I’ll take from it what I can learn and carry that forward to the next competition. It’s tough to do two championship meets so close together but the Americans do it, the Canadians do it, so we just have to find away to get it done,” he said.
The triple gold medallist from this year’s Pacific Games also took time out to comment on the positive effect of the crowd in the Kazan Arena.
“The atmosphere out there was good. Your first race on the first day is probably the most nervous for everyone but it felt great and everyone was really welcoming. The fact that so many people are here is great,” he said.
On a personal note Amini gave an insight into his aims for this week in Russia.
“I want to make strides toward Rio 2016, I’d love to go for another Olympics and if I can qualify this time that would be great,” he added.
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