2013 World Champs - Day 3
By Alice McAlpine of The Reporters’ Academy UK
The Pacific Island swimmers came out firing on all cylinders at the start of the third day of competition at the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona.
Leading the way in the second heat of the 50m Breaststroke was Troy Kojenlang of the Marshall Islands.
He set the pace and atmosphere for the Pacific island swimmers who were to follow at this iconic venue.
As he hit the pool one glance at the scoreboard gave an indication of his determination to produce his best. He had the joint second fastest reaction time off the blocks of all 80 starters and was four hundredths of a second faster than Cameron Van der Burgh of South Africa, who qualified fastest out of the heats.
“ It was pretty good. My plan was to get out there and kill it and stroke as hard as I could and to see what time I could get.”
This strong start clearly helped Troy as he forged his way to second place in a time of 31.38 seconds. A time which was a very creditable 2.73 seconds inside his qualifying time for these championships and only seven hundredths of a second behind his heat winner.
“ I was close to finishing first. Today was pretty good, the water was pretty clear. Right now I’m ‘tired, but I’m looking forward to warming down, taking my energy off and hopefully next time I can do better than that.”
Benjamin Schulte completed his week of representing Guam by going one better. He finished on a high, finishing first in his heat and shaving 0.39 seconds off his personal best with a time of 29:61 in the Men’s 50m Breaststroke.
This was a continuation of the success Benjamin enjoyed on Sunday in the 100m Breaststroke, where he chopped over 4 and a half seconds off his qualifying time.
Thrilled to have done so well in both races, the 17 year old’s only complaint was that the experience has gone too fast.
“I couldn’t be happier, but that was too short. I would have like to soak it up a bit more. With a 50 you just get in and do it and that’s it before you even realise it! But I’m so happy with that”
Benjamin, whose goal for the next three years is to post competitive times toward Rio 2016, has taken this experience as an opportunity not just to improve his times, but also to develop as a swimmer in general.
“With this meet I feel like I’ve grown, like I’ve jumped another level in terms of mentality as an athlete.”
Sharing a pool with the world’s best this week has clearly fuelled Benjamin’s motivation for progression.
“Being here has given me the overall will to do better next time. I want to take that extra time after training now to stretch and do all those things that could give me an edge for the next international meet.”
Two days on from his 400m Freestyle race, swimmer Brandon Schuster of Samoa joined 33 other starters for the longer distance of 800m Freestyle.
Coached by mum, Suzie Schuster, this was a valuable experience on the highest stage for the youngest swimmer in his event aged just fifteen. Having shaved over 7 seconds off his personal best in the 400m it was time to push back his own personal best over 16 lengths. He touched in 9 minutes 27.45 seconds, an impressive double figure reduction in seconds off his previous personal best.
The great effort in doing this was not lost on Brandon:
“It was good but pretty hard. I planned to sprint for the first 100 and then I paced to 400 faster than I usually go and then paced it up before sprinting toward the finish.”
Brandon is still building his experience at big events, having travelled twice per year to compete in Fiji for Long Course and Short Course Nationals, as well as his first senior international last year at World Short Course Championships in Istanbul. But the atmosphere here in Barcelona is something he relished:
“Yeah, it’s great. It’s something that I don’t get very often so I really like it. It’s pretty awesome to represent my country at one of these events and it’s pretty cool to be part of a swim team of three.”
Another heading her field was Matelita Buadromo who brought her World Championship swimming campaign to a successful close as she broke her second personal best of the week with a time of 2:12:31 in the 200m Freestyle. This was over two and a half seconds under her qualifying time.
Still aiming high, 17-year-old Matelita downplays her achievement, explaining that she was actually aiming for a time of under 2:10.
“It was okay, not was I was aiming for ...but okay!”
Having knocked 10 seconds of her PB in the 200m Individual Medley earlier in the week, as well as already holding three national records for different events in Fiji, this uncompromising attitude is proving a formula for success.
“I’ve learned a lot of things here. When I see the world champions and what they do, it makes me want to go back and train harder to see what I can do next time”