MANILA, Philippines – A lean Philippine swimming squad looks to break “a few more national records” when it kicks off its campaign in the FINA World Championships slated June 18 to July 3 in Budapest, Hungary.
Two-time Olympian Jasmine Alkhaldi leads the Philippine delegation that also includes Southeast Asian (SEA) Games multi-medalist Miranda Renner and Jonathan Cook.
“We can hopefully qualify for the semifinals (top 16),” said Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI) president Lailani Velasco.
“From there, we will see how our swimmers will do. The World Championships is a venue for us to gauge how far we are from the world’s best talents so this is an important event for PSI.”
Alkhaldi will compete in the women’s 50-meter freestyle event, while Renner will participate in the women’s 50m butterfly. Cook will see action in the men’s 200m breaststroke.
“Most of the world’s top talents will be in attendance. Therefore, we have modest goals for the World Championships,” said Velasco, noting that the team hopes to produce “a few more national records if not personal bests.”
Alkhaldi left for Budapest late Tuesday along with Velasco and coach Sherwyn John Santiago. Renner and Cook will join the delegation in Budapest as both will be coming from the United States.
Their campaign gets going just days after the controversial non-inclusion of Chloe Isleta, the Philippines’ only gold medal winner in swimming at the 31st SEA Games.
Isleta’s camp complained of preferential treatment, but PSI explained that the selection was based on FINA’s (international swimming federation) criteria to join the world championships.
Alkhaldi, who competed in 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics, earned a spot as a “B” Standard Entry Time qualifier after she clocked 25.62 seconds in the women’s 50m freestyle during the Hanoi SEA Games last month, meeting the 25.92 seconds cutoff.
Renner likewise earned her spot through the SEA Games, a qualifying event approved by FINA, after she submitted a time of 26.99 seconds in the women’s 50m butterfly, also just a fraction of a second better than the 27.24 seconds cutoff.
Two other Filipino male swimmers met the FINA criteria for the world championships but Olympian Luke Gebbie pulled out due to an injury, while Jerard Jacinto begged off due to medical reasons.
Cook wound up as the country’s lone male bet as he earned his spot through the universality rule by emerging as the highest ranked athlete with 793 FINA points. – Rappler.com