Paulene Beatriz Obebe completed another sweep, while Nicola Queen Diamante fell short in her final event at the close of 1st COPA-SMP (Congress of Philippine Aquatics, Inc.-Samahang Manlalangoy ng Pilipinas) Christmas Friendship Swimfest over the weekend at the Teofilo Yldefonso Swimming Pool inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Malate, Manila.
Obebe, the pride of Aqua Sprint Swim Club, closed out her four-event campaign with sterling performances in the girls’ 12-yrs-old 100m freestyle, clocking one minute and 06.76 seconds, putting an exclamation point to her Most Outstanding Swimmer award.
“Masayang-masaya po. Hopefully, next year mapababa ko pa ‘yung mga time sa event ko,” said Obebe, who also won the gold medal in the girls’ 12-yrs Class A 50m butterfly (31.18), 50m backstroke (34.83) and 50-m free (29.33).
Diamante of the RSS Dolphins of coach Anthony Reyes, however, absorbed her first tournament loss as she settled for second to gold medal winner Maria Felisha Celso of the Bulacan Water Dragons in the 11-yrs old Class A 100m free.
The Grade 7 honor student of Augustinian Abbey School in Las Pinas was timed 1:11.77 behind the 1:08.79 clocking of Celso. The loss was Diamante’s first since the COPA event returned last August. She earlier was adjudged MOS in her event after winning the 50-meter freestyle (31.66), 50m backstroke (34.43) and 50m butterfly (34.43). Overall, she amassed 24 gold medals.
“Pagbubutihan ko na lang po sa susunod. Kung ano po ‘yung pagkukulang ko sa nakita ni coach, itatama ko po para sa susunod na mga tournaments,” said Diamante.
COPA board member and SMP president Chito Rivera said Rob Wright of the famous Hong Kong swimming family and head of the HK Stingray Swim Club already confirmed to send a dozen swim clubs for COPA’s tournament, tentatively set in March next year.
“Nakausap ko si Rob Wright ng HK. Matagal na nating kaibigan ang pamilya nyan. He said he will send a team kahit isang dosena. ‘Yung isa pang kaibigan natin sa Malaysia ganoon din ang suporta sa atin. So, hindi na natin kailangang gumastos ng malaki para lumabas ng bansa, ‘yung foreign team ang papupuntahin natin dito,” said Rivera.
Aside from this, Rivera stressed that COPA plans to hold more tournaments and educational seminars for coaches and public school PE teachers, as well as continue the vision of COPA president and Batangas 1st District Rep. Eric Buhain in collaboration with other swim clubs and organizations as a united front in swimming’s grassroots program.