After Typhoon Lawin inadvertently caused the postponement of the UAAP Season 79 Swimming Championships, action finally begins at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex Swimming Pool today, October 21, 2016.
Set to dominate the field in the Men’s Division is back-to-back MVP and two-time Olympian Jessie Khing Lacuna of the reigning champions, Ateneo de Manila University. Fresh from his Rio Olympics stint, Lacuna will swim in only five individual events out of the usual seven maximum events he’s won in each of the two previous editions of the meet. Expect him to headline the relay events this weekend.
Backstopping the three-peat drive of Lacuna are Axel Ngui, Alberto Batungbacal, and Giancarlo Silva. The Blue Tankers did not lose any key player to graduation this season. Rather, they will banner two impact rookies in youth national swimmer Jethro Chua and UAAP Season 77Juniors’ MVP Miguel Arellano.
De La Salle University will try to stage an upset of the reigning champions as their young core of Leon Red Silvestre, Juan Miguel Narciso, Alfonso Bautista, Alnair Guevarra, and UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year Arian Neil Puyo have shown vast improvements in previous meets leading into this competition.
Not to be left out, the University of the Philippines look to improve on their disappointing third place finish in UAAP Season 78. Dexter Lacuna, the younger brother of Jessie, is expected to lead the Fighting Maroons along with Rafael Sta. Maria, Lawin Dacera, Christen Mercado, and Gian Berino.
In the Women’s Division, another two-way battle between back-to-back champions Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines is brewing.
Ateneo narrowly edged UP in the previous season. However, with the loss of key players due to graduation, the Ateneo Lady Tankers will have to work extra hard if they want to claim the title the UP Lady Tankers are so hungry to reclaim after finishing second the past two seasons.
Reigning MVP Hannah Dato of Ateneo will once more lead the team along with Season 77 Rookie of the Year Ariana Herranz, Season 78 Rookie of the Year Romina Gavino, and Ramona Datu. Seeking to fill the gap left by players who graduated, Andrea Ngui will provide a welcome addition to the decimated lineup.
The UP Lady Maroons, on the other hand, welcome the return of Season 75 Rookie of the Year & MVP Delia Cordero. She will have plenty of support from Anna Bartolome, Ma. Kristina Bartolome, Winona Tee Ten, Janna Taguibao, Ma. Teresa Dela Rosa and Pricila Aquino, among others.
Other notable swimmers to watch out for are Catherine Bondad and Dara Evangelista of De La Salle University and Mary Angelic Saavedra of the University of Santo Tomas.
Adamson University, National University, and University of the East also have entries in the tournament.