2013 World Champs - Day 7


By Alice McAlpine of The Reporters’ Academy UK


More personal best times were the order of the day as the last group of Pacific islands swimmers splashed out at the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona.

Day 7 got under way at the Palau Sant Jordi arena in Barcelona with six Pacific island athletes lining up in the Women’s 50m Freestyle.

Marshall Islands swimmer Colleen Furgeson was looking for her second personal best of the week having won her Women’s 50m Backstroke Heat in 34.48 seconds.

The 14 year old showed no signs of nerves as once again she left the field trailing and touched first in a personal best of 29.09 seconds having completed the 50m Freestyle.

There was a nice surprise awaiting Colleen in the interview area immediately after the race. Having not seen her time on the scoreboard, a broad beam spread across her face as she was told of her time.

“Oh sweet, I couldn’t see the time because I’ve not got my glasses on! Oh good, that’s a really good personal best.”

Like a lot of swimmers Colleen is close to her coach Sarah Stepchew.

“ My coach told me to swim it all out and try my best. I wasn’t trying to race everyone else, just trying to get a personal best by swimming my own race. It’s been a good week I hope my coach Sarah is proud of me. We trained really hard and I hope I’ve given a lot back to her and proved I’m good enough for my spot on the team.”

For Angel De Jesus from the Northern Marianas Islands a quick recovery was needed after her exertions in the 50m Butterfly on Day 6.


The 14 year old was determined not to leave Barcelona without leaving her best in the pool. Indeed, she can be pleased, as she clocked a time of 31.01 seconds just three hundredths of a second outside her qualifying time for these championships.


“It was tiring but I’m glad I had a good time, I’m happy about that.”


Danisha Paul took to the pool for the Federated States of Micronesia and finished the 50m Freestyle with a time of 34.29, missing her qualifying time by 1.45 seconds.

Palauan Dirngulbai Misech also swam the Women’s 50m Freestyle, finishing with a time of 30.22, just 0.09 outside of her qualifying time of 30.13 seconds.

“It felt good but I’m kind of mad right now. I don’t know what happened.”

Dirngulbai was quick to turn that frustration into motivation however, and is already focused on what she needs to work on:

“My stroke and my kicking, especially the last 15m - that’s when I need to speed up.”

Reflecting on her time at the World Championships, Dirngulbai also commented on the community spirit at the Worlds amongst the Pacific Islands teams:

“It feels amazing just to be here with everyone, being really close with all these other small islands. We feel like one family in this.”

Irene Prescott was the last Tongan to swim at the FINA World Championships, finishing the 50m Freestyle in 28.19, which shaved 0.15 off her qualifying time for these championships.

“Yeah it was good, I got a little bit of a PB. My aim was to try and beat 28 - I got 28.19 so a little bit off, but I’m happy with that.”

This was 19 year old Irene’s second personal best of the week, after she took 0.09 seconds off her time in the 50m Butterfly. Comparing the two events, Irene felt that she had overcome her nerves the second time around:

“Today I felt more confident off the blocks and I felt like the nerves just disappeared.”

The success of this week has Irene eager to get back into training, to put the lessons she has learned to use:

“I just want to get back to training after this. This meet has really inspired me to put more hard work in. I’m blown away with all the talent that’s here and I can’t wait to get back into the pool!”

Swimmer Tegan McCarthy rounded off her week with her second personal best of the week, this time in the Women’s 50m Breaststroke. Representing Papua New Guinea, Tegan finished in 34.81 seconds, shaving 0.6 seconds off her qualifying time for these championships.

Reflecting on the race, 15 year old Tegan was satisfied but still looking for ways to improve:

“I need to work on my starts, to be more efficient on those. I can always work on them.”

Pilar Shimizu made her first and last appearance on Day 7. All this in just twenty eight minutes!


The 17 year old representing Guam took to the pool in the Women’s 50m Freestyle followed by the 50m Breaststroke. Nevertheless, time was certainly of the essence as Pilar posted personal best times in both events. Firstly, 28.14 seconds in the Freestyle, the fastest of all the Pacific island athletes entered in the heats of that event. Then she touched home in 34.20 seconds in the later event.


Naturally, she was pleased with her morning’s work as she shared the news in the interview area with the other Pacific swimmers and the press.


“During the Freestyle I was really, really nervous as it was my first race at these championships so I kind of freaked out a little bit. But I ended up doing a personal best so it was all ok in the end. Ahead of the Breaststroke I was less nervous but tired. I tried to talk myself out of it (the tiredness) but there’s only so much you can do. I was still a little tired during the race, and I know I could have done better if I didn’t have the 50 Free first. ”


Pilar, who is the holder of two bronze medals from the 2012 Oceania Championships was relishing the major event atmosphere again despite her wait to compete. Foremost on her mind was the pride she has in representing Guam.


“ I think representing my island on such a large stage is something that not a lot of people can do so it’s a great honour for me. I try to take it seriously, it’s almost like a job as I’m not here to have fun. Just to be able to represent my islands is awesome, it’s a good feeling.”


Bearing in mind Pilar Shimizu was the last Pacific island swimmer to be in action at these World Championships her final statement and her performance in the pool seemed to sum up a large part of the positive element of the Pacific appearances at this week’s event.



This article was produced by Alice McAlpine of The Reporters' Academy, a media production company run by young people, tasked with the mission of telling the stories of Oceania's swimmers at the World Championships in Barcelona. The Reporters' Academy is integrated into the world of media, education and employment, based in the great sporting city of Manchester



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