One of the goals of the Ateneo Swimming Team in this year’s UAAP Swimming Championships is to make their competition know from Day One that they are plotting a coup. And boy did the Blue Tankers from Katipunan put on a show to the small crowd in the Rizal Memorial Swimming Complex.
Five events were at stake in Day One, namely: 200m Medley Relay, 100m Freestyle, 200m Individual Medley, 800m Freestyle and 800m Freestyle Relay. The Blue Tankers managed to grab the gold medal in ALL five events of the day with two new UAAP records in the 200m Medley Relay and 200m Individual Medley. Meanwhile, the Lady Tankers of Ateneo managed to grab four out of five golds as well as two new UAAP records in 200m Individual Medley and 800m Freestyle. The only other gold medal going to the 200m Medley Relay team of UP which was another UAAP record finish.
None other than Season 75 Rookie of the Year and multiple record holder, Axel Ngui lead the way in Day One for the Ateneo Men’s Swimming Team with gold medal finishes in the 800m Freestyle (8:41.15) and 100m Freestyle (53.05), events he has now won for the third straight year. He will still be swimming five events in the last three days of the competition.
Not to be outdone, London Olympics campaigner Jessie Lacuna, also of Ateneo, brought home the gold medal in 200m Individual Medley with a UAAP record time of 2:05.59, erasing the 2:09.46 mark set by DLSU graduate Johansen Aguilar back in UAAP Season 76. Jessie, who is swimming in his first year for Ateneo after serving a year of residency, still has six events to go in his maiden season for the Blue and White.
Since the UAAP Swimming Championships is not so much a competition about landing in the podium as it is about scoring the most number of points by getting all four allowed entries in the Top 8 of each event, it is important to note that Ateneo rookie Aldo Batungbacal, a record holder and former Rookie of the Year in the Juniors’ level, ended up with two silver medals at the end of the day, one in 200m Individual Medley (2:12.86), and the other in 800m Freestyle (8:59.81). Futhermore, another Ateneo rookie, Getty Reyes, a two-time MVP in the Juniors’ level, was able to manage a bronze medal in 800m Freestyle (9:12.86). Other podium finishers were Charlie Walker of UP (54.31) and Alfred Rojo also of UP (55.98) in 100m Freestyle. Finally, Franz Marquez of UST took the bronze medal in 200m Individual Medley (2:14.21).
As for the relay events, the Ateneo team in 200m Medley Relay represented by Jan Jeric Santos, Miguel Pesueña, Gio Palencia and Paolo Mutuc (1:52.06) surpassed expectations and surprised the crowd by not only touching ahead of favorites Charlie Walker, Joseph Beloso, Gabriel Castelo and Joshua Balinas of UP (1:52.07) and Jhonmar Gonzales, Kito Zialcita, Pierce Beltran and Red Silvestre of DLSU (1:52.53), but also establishing a new UAAP Record. They truly showed grit and the desire to regain the championship the team lost to UP last season.
Another Ateneo team in the 800m Freestyle Relay with swimmers Jan Jeric Santos, Brandon Sing, Robie Batungbacal and Gio Palencia (8:27.11) led the event by a huge margin on route to the last gold medal of Ateneo for the day. In second place was the team from DLSU with swimmers JM Ereneta, Benjo Narciso, Sage Yabut and Troy Espiritu (8:35.65) and in third was UST’s Justin Jamias, Jux Solita, Allen Miranda and Michael Bunag (8:37.32).
Meanwhile, in the Women’s Division, the Ateneo Lady Tankers refused to be left out by their male counterparts. It was a total team effort that gave Ateneo several gold medals and the lead in the team tally. Providing the team with its first gold medal in 800m Freestyle in record fashion was Kimberly Uy with a time of 9:26.11, re-establishing the 9:28.46 mark she set a year ago. She still has four events in the competition.
Another Ateneo veteran, Roanne Yu, was good for a gold in 100m Freestyle (59.69) with her teammate Anna Celina Gonzalez touching a few seconds after for the silver (1:01.34) and Green Tanker Sabrina Ingrid Ilustre rounding out the podium (1:01.87). Roanne, a sprinter, will only swim in three other individual events.
National athlete Hannah Dato of Ateneo showed her mastery of the 200m Individual Medley event for which she owns the Philippine Record. In the preliminary session, she debuted for Ateneo by establishing a new UAAP Record of 2:24.55 before erasing that mark in the finals with a time of 2:21.66. The super rookie is still competing in six other events in the next three days.
Additional support came in for Ateneo in the form of another rookie in Ariana Herranz. Ariana finished 2nd in 800m Freestyle (9:49.11) and then 3rd in 200m Individual Medley (2:32.32). It was Denjylie Cordero of UP, the former record holder, who won the silver in 200m Individual Medley (2:29.81) while her sister, Delia Cordero, also from UP, won the bronze in 800m Freestyle (10:02.62).
The team of Ma. Andrea Torres, Julia Balanag, Kimberly Uy and Jacquelyn Cruz would later on provide Ateneo its 4th gold medal of the day in 800m Freestyle Relay (9:26.59) by finishing ahead of the team of Erica Lukang, Monica Padilla, Michaela Alcover and Caitlin Cruz of UP (9:37.81) and Isabelle Gubat, Rhezel Jugar, Danica Locsin and Kristine Libat of UST (10:04.59).
It would not be an all Ateneo show in Day One as the defending champions UP refused to yield the 200m Medley Relay. With a solid lineup in record holders Anna Dominique Bartolome, Joy Rodgers, Antoinette Aquino and Anna Nicole Tan, the UP Tankers erased their old UAAP mark of 2:06.75 with a time of 2:05.98. The Ateneo team of Anna Celina Gonzalez, Ramona Datu, Nathania Rockwood and Roanne Yu would closely follow at 2:06.73 while the UST team of Coralyn Lim, Samantha Cambronero, Edlyn Son and Zoe Teodoro finished 3rd in 2:15.91.
Even as the Men’s and Women’s team of Ateneo have mounted a big lead in Day One, the competition is expected to be close in the last three days of competition. Defending champions in both the Men’s and Women’s Division, UP will not make it easy for the Ateneo Blue Tankers to take the crown away from them. The stage is set for a showdown between the two teams. If heart is the basis for the championship, it would seem that the Blue Tankers have got more and want the trophy more by managing to produce a few surprise finishes defying all odds. In the Women’s Division, UP did not seem to want to end their five-year reign as champions while Ateneo seems to want to finally end their five-year runner-up finish to UP by emerging as champions.
Three days remain and plenty more points to build a solid lead or turn things around. Another five events are at stake in Day Two of the UAAP Swimming Championships – 400m Freestyle, 50m Breaststroke, 100m Butterfly, 200m Backstroke and 400m Freestyle Relay.
Stay tuned to our twitter account (@TiebreakerTimes) for live updates in the UAAP Season 77 Swimming Championships!
DAY ONE TEAM TALLY