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IMAZU SETS GUAM 1500 RECORD AT FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Guam’s Mark Imazu set a new 1500 Guam National record at the FINA World Championships.

By Jay Leon Guerrero 

Despite not having a public pool or proper training facilities, four young swimmers came back to Guam with goals accomplished. Mineri Gomez (20), Mark Imazu (17), Israel Poppe (15) and Keana Santos (14) traveled to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to participate in the 2021 FINA World Swimming Championships.

Guam’s young prospects shared the pool at the Etihad Arena with their idols and Olympic gold medalists in their sport. Head coach Don San Agustin and chaperone Yumiko Imazu accompanied Guam’s future representing the Guam Swimming Federation (GSF). 

Gomez, the “veteran” of the group at just 20 years old, finished competing at the Olympics in Tokyo is improving with every event she attends.

“I’ve been travelling and representing Guam for several years and the Olympic Games was a whole new level. Experiencing the Olympics, I was more confident and excited for my swim for this Abu Dhabi World Swimming Championships,” said Gomez.

Imazu breaks brother record

Triathlon/cross country star Mark Imazu was disqualified in his first event but came back and broke a Guam National Record once held by his older brother Tommy.

“In the 1500m, I wasn’t expecting to be in the 17’s (17:59.68),” said Mark Imazu. “It feels amazing to break the Guam record held by my brother too.”

Imazu, a senior cross country runner from JFK, missed the ISA All-Island Meet but had somewhere to be. Imazu was projected to be in the top 10 for the All-Island and his presence was not missed as the Islanders still won both team championships.  

Personal Bests achieved

Keana Santos and Israel Poppe, remember their names! The future looks bright for the two younger participants in the event.

“I did a personal best (PB) on both my 100 and 200 freestyle swims,” said Poppe. “I am very proud to represent Guam; I’m glad I wasn’t too nervous.”

“This experience definitely gives me a bit more confidence in my performance and I believe that I will be able to face my fears a lot better during meets. I did do a PB for both of the events and I am excited to improve further,” said Santos.

(L-R) 1500m record breaker Mark Imazu, Olympian Mineri Gomez, Keana Santos, and Israel Poppe.

Relay event

Team Guam had the opportunity to race in a heat against other countries in a 4 X 200-meter relay. Gomez started the relay, followed by Imazu, Santos and the team was anchored by Poppe. The total time was 1:50.11. 

All athletes were grateful for their support system which include coaches Don San Agustin and Ed Ching, the GSF, GNOC and their family. 

“Being able to swim and race against the other elite swimmers in big competitions is such an honor and I am very thankful for GSF and the coaches,” said Gomez. “All this happened thanks to the help from coach Don, coach Ching and all my teammates from swimming and cross country.”

Keana Santos. age 14
17 Aug 2007 Female
200 fr. 2:37.49
400 fr. 5:33.39

Mineri Gomez. age 20
14 Apr 2001 Female
100 fr. 1:04.
Olympics 2021
100 fly 1:14.10

Israel Poppe. age 15
26 Nov 2007 Male
100 fr. 57.24
200 fr. 2:08.42

Mark Imazu age 17
8 Jan 2004 Male
400 fr 4:38
1500 fr 18:21

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