Marshall Islands Swimming Federation
President: Marry Harris
Secretary General: Kathy Furgeson
Coaches Cris Lindborg and Sarah Stepchew led a team of five swimmers, including Solidarity Elite Athlete Scholarship recipient Jared Heine to the XII FINA World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. FINA assisted with transportation and room/board funding for four athletes, Olympic Solidarity provided additional funding. Because Marshall Islands has a very active federation and participated at the previous three World Championships, FINA increased its assistance from two athletes for the last competition to four for this competition.
The additional visibility in the international circuit has improved the level of swimming and participation at home. There are now eleven youth from Ebeye and several more Marshallese residing in Kwajalein who have joined the Marshall Islands Swimming Federation. They are also hosting a coaching clinic as part of the FINA sponsored Development Program, and hope to bring this program to Majuro as well.
Jared Heine continues to train for Beijing and compete in hopes of attaining an Olympic qualifying time.
Cris Lindborg and Sarah Stepchew continue to spearhead the development of athletes and coaches for the Marshall Islands Swimming Federation. In July 2006, both attended Oceania to officiate at an international event for the first time, post FINA sponsored training in 2005.
This year's swimming team was very young but shows a lot of promise. Under the leadership of Cris Lindborg and Sarah Stepchew, they won several medals. Ian Taylor brought home a gold medal in the men's 50-meter freestyle and won a bronze medal in the men's 100-meter freestyle. His brother Michael Taylor took a bronze in the men's 100-meter breaststroke. The men's team also nabbed bronze medals in the 400 and 800-meter freestyle relay and the 400-meter medley relay. The women's team also distinguished itself with two solver medals in the 400-meter freestyle relay and the 400-meter medley relay. We are currently working to obtain Marshallese citizenship for many of the swimmers who were born and raised in RMI but do not have Marshallese passport.
Previous gold medalist Jared Heine was absent from this year's Micro Games. He received an Olympic Solidarity scholarship to train for next year's Pacific Games, the Oceania Championships and the Beijing Olympics. In December 2006, Solidarity funded his participation in the US Open. He continues to train at Florida State University, where he was a member of the swim team until his recent graduation. His goal not only to attend but actually qualify for the Beijing Games. He will be visiting RMI in January 2007 to conduct swimming clinics and to promote his Olympic participation.
Upcoming 2007 Events include: Five Swimmers will participate at the XII FINA World Championships in Melbourne in March 2007; Jared Heine & Giordan Harris will participate in the 2007 South Pacific Games; and a FINA-sponsored coaching clinic will be conducted by well-known trainer Milt Nelms in Kwajelein and Majuro in October 2007.