by Kristel Satumbaga
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – After an impressive showing in the recent 43rd SEA Age Group Swimming Championships here, members of the Philippine junior swimming team are targeting a bigger challenge – making it to the PH squad to the 2019 Manila Southeast Asian Games late this year.
One of them is Fil-American Desirae Mangaoang.
Only 15 but with a big fighting heart, Mangaoang accounted for three of eight golds won by the PH side, including a record-setting feat in the 50-meter breaststroke.
She also produced one of 13 silvers brought home by the PH side. The Filipinos also collected 9 bronzes as they bettered their previous best of 4-10-16 medals last year at the Trace Aquatics Center in Los Baños, Laguna.
“I’m happy for the opportunity because it feels unreal,” said Mangaoang, whose 33.20sec performance eclipsed the 33.46sec national record of Imelda Corazon Wistey at the 2015 Singapore SEA Games and Thanya Dela Cruz at the 2018 ASEAN Schools in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
US-based Jeremiah Tandingan also hopes to make it to the SEAG-bound PH team particularly in the relay events after she and Mishka Sy, Samantha Baños and Mangaoang gave the Nationals its first relay gold in the Age Group meet.
Jerard Jacinto, who pocketed two gold medals, also seeks a debut appearance in the SEAG.
“It’s full of senior swimmers and it makes me want to persevere,” said Jacinto.
The 18-year-old Jacinto is competing in the FINA World Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August.
“That’s why when I get home, all I want is to apply what I’ve learned this tournament to make me better,” he added.
Miranda Renner, another SEAG prospect, is also excited to have that opportunity to compete at the higher level of the tournament after representing the country in four junior events over the past years.