by Kristel Satumbaga
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—The Philippines came off to a hot start in the 43rd Southeast Asian Age Group Swimming Championships on Friday after scooping three gold medals at the Morodok Techo National Sports Complex here.
Desirae Mangaoang, who was born and raised in North Carolina, delivered the first gold for the Nationals after topping the girls 16-18 50-meter breaststroke in 33.20 seconds, just a hairline ahead of silver winner Kijkanakorn Nisha of Thailand (33.21sec) and Vietname’s Ngoc My Phung (33.27sec).
“It feels unreal,” said Mangaoang on her first international stint with the Philippine team.
“The race felt so fast, I barely knew what happened. I was a bit nervous at the start because some of the girls were a bit taller than me, but I tried not to get it into me,” added Mangaoang, one of the country’s prospects for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in Manila late this year.
Also sharing the top podium were Jerard Jacinto, who ruled the boys 16-18 100m backstroke in 56.92sec and Fil-Australian Georgia Peregrina, who clocked 1 minute and 6.00sec in the girls 16-18 100m back.
“It was exciting for me. My time’s not good so I was a bit disappointed with it, but I was just glad to medal,” said Peregrina, who also went home with a silver medal in the girls 16-18 200m individual medley with a time of 2:23.26.
The PH team also collected six silver and four bronze medals on the first of the three-day meet.
Winning silver apart from Peregrina were Rian Marco Tirol in the boys 16-18 50m breast (29.37sec), Ivon Enot in the boys 13-under 100m back (1:04.20), Samantha Baños in the girls 14-15 100m butterfly (1:03.62), Miranda Renner in the girls 16-18 50m freestyle (27.01sec), and the team of Adrian Eichler, Matthew Alumbres, Juan Marco Daos and Miguel Barreto in the boys 18-under 4x200m free relay (7:59.51).
Renner also pocketed bronze in the girls 16-18 100m fly (1:03.63) along with Athena Chang in the girls 13-under 400m free (4:40.88), Jeremiah Tandingan in the boys 14-15 50m free (27.38sec) and the team of Xiandi Chua, Janelle Lin, Chang and Tandingan in the mixed 18-under 4x200m free (8:44.97).
Twenty-seven gold medals are at stake on Saturday with the PH team inching closer to its bid of eclipsing last year’s four-gold medal haul. Thirty-three more events will be contested on the final day on Sunday.