After a two-week delay from the usual schedule of the UAAP Swimming Championships, all teams are ready to get it on in this weekend’s competition. No team is as prepared and excited as the Blue Tankers of Ateneo – a team that has not only locked its sight at reclaiming the crown, but also loaded itself with fresh faces to aid in its UAAP Season 77 campaign.
“Loaded” is more than enough to describe the team this year. After ceding the throne to the UP Maroons in Season 76, the Blue Tankers retooled their lineup like Men’s Basketball counterparts. This season, the Blue Tankers will be parading a slew of young talent. Two-time junior’s MVP Getty Reyes and former Rookie of the year and multi-record holder Aldo Batungbacal will bring their act to the Seniors’ Divison and headline the cast of nine debuting swimmers for the Blue and White. Together with Ateneo’s dynamic freshman duo, London Olympics 2012 campaigner Jessie Lacuna, who is coming straight from the Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, will finally showcase his talent in the UAAP after serving a year of residency.
While the core of the Season 75 championship team is still intact, these nine new faces will definitely be a welcome aid to Axel Ngui and Gio Palencia who were only able to manage a second runner-up finish in their attempt at defending the crown last season. In 2012, the underdog Blue Tankers team was able come out on top of the competition by just a few points. However, this season, many believe that the Blue Tankers are the team to beat, a position the Blue Tankers had never held going into the 4-day competition in its history.
But make no mistake about it, the UP Maroons will not just concede the trophy to the Blue Tankers. The Fighting Maroons were able to add significant talent to further boost their roster while only losing a few to graduation. Expected to lead the way for the UP Maroons are national team mainstay and record-holder Charlie Walker, former Ateneans Gabe Castelo and Lawin Dacera, Orpheus Magbanlac, as well as rookies Rydell Ayroso and Dexter Lacuna.
It will be a titanic clash between the Blue Tankers and the Maroons this weekend but don’t count the Green Tankers or the UST Tigersharks out. The Green Tankers will be led by Robby Agustin, Johnmar Gonzales and Pierce Beltran while the Tigersharks has Franz Marquez. These two squads are sure to make an impact in the overall result of the competition.
One night remains until the battle begins… Let’s get it on!
Photo by Judith San Juan
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