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Filipino tankers try to end 10-year SEA Games drought

/ 04:08 AM December 04, 2019

FILE – Jessie Khing Lacuna of the Philippines (C) competes in the men’s 400m freestyle final at the 28th Southeast Asian Games  in Singapore on June 11, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP)

NEW CLARK CITY—Ending a 10-year dry spell is what the Philippine swimmers will have in mind as they start their campaign on Wednesday in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at NCC Aquatics Center here.

Fil-Americans James Deiparine and Remedy Rule will join homegrown talents Jessie Khing Lacuna and Jasmine Al-Khaldi in leading the mission as seven gold medals go up for grabs in the first day of competitions.

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“We have a big team now and everybody gets along. Personally I’m very very excited to compete,” said Deiparine, who will see action in his favorite men’s 100-meter breaststroke.

Jerald Jacinto will also join the hunt for gold, campaigning in the men’s 100-m backstroke. Jacinto has been very impressive during his US training camp that he immediately got a scholarship from Texas A&M University.

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After several fruitless campaigns, Philippine Swimming Inc. president Lani Velasco said they have no way to go but up.

“At this point, even if we win just one gold it’s a big improvement already,” she said.

Fortunately, the prospects look good for this batch of National tankers as the country seeks to end its search for its next swim star.

A second-time SEA Games competitor, Deiparine’s best time in the event is one minute, 2.44 seconds, which is within striking distance of the 1:1.60 meet record which has stood for 10 years.

Rule, who will see action in the biennial meet for the first time, will race in women’s 200-m butterfly and 100-m freestyle, where she will swim with Al-Khaldi.

The 23-year-old Rule, a former Texas Longhorns standout, has a personal best of 2:11.38 in the 200 fly, giving the country big hopes as the current SEAG record is 2:11.12.

Rule’s best effort in the 100m free is 56.13 seconds, while Al-Khaldi will also go for it holding a personal best mark of 56.45. The Games’ benchmark is 55.74 seconds.

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The SEAG’s standard in men’s 100-m backstroke is 54.51 seconds, with Jacinto’s best time being 56.27 seconds.

Also on tap are the men’s 400-m freestyle with Lacuna and Miguel Barreto, the 200-m fly (Rule and Rosallee Mira Sta. Ana), 100-m breast (Deiparine and Jonathan Sebastian Cook), and the women’s 200-m individual medley (Chloe Kennedy Isleta and Xiandi Chua).

The men’s 100-m back will have Jacinto and Jaden Christian Olson seeing action. The men’s 4 X 200 free will have Lacuna, Barreto, Jean Pierre Sameh Khouzam, Maurice Sacho and Thomas Justin Peregrina in the pool.

The last time the Philippines won a gold in the SEA Games was in 2009 where the country picked up four mints courtesy of Miguel Molina, who won two, Ryan Arabejo and Daniel Coakley.

In the 1991 SEAG held here, the country, powered by Eric Buhain’s five-gold splurge, amassed 10 golds. The Philippines bagged four in the 2005 edition. INQ

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