By Mars G. Alison
Champion swimmer Loren Dale Echavez of Team Rafi clinched her fourth Women’s 6K competitive category title in-a-row in last Saturday’s 7th Olango Challenge held at the Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan in Lapu-Lapu City.
This is the fifth time that Echavez took part in the since 2010, wherein she placed second in her first open water competition.
“It is fulfilling that I have conquered my fear of competing in the open water,” Echavez said when asked about how she feels about notching her fourth title after finishing the race in one hour, 31 minutes and 49.22 seconds.
Echavez has been vocal about her unease in racing in the open water and admits to still feeling jittery especially when the race course takes her further away from the shore and farther into the sea.
Despite that, Echavez said that she has learned to have fun in this annual competition and is looking forward to next year’s edition of the race.
Another member of Team Rafi who was also able to defend his title in the Men’s 6K competitive category was Keith Ashley Ocampo who had a dramatic race against Michael Ichiro Kong of Cebu Blue Marlins SC.
Kong was actually the first to get out of the water and cross the finish line after engaging in a sprint finish against Ocampo, who got blocked by a marshal on a kayak.
However, Kong was disqualified after a turn judge, Mark Jason Arcamo, said he did not take a loop around the second buoy during the second turn.
Kong, who finished second to Ocampo last year, had insisted that he took the loop underwater but Arcamo, who was holding on to the buoy, said the buoy had moved which was why Kong missed it. He said that he even told Kong to turn around and take the loop but Kong, who was trying to protect a slim lead, had told him that he already did and went on his way.
Kong tried to protest his disqualification but Philippine Swimming Inc.’s Richard Luna said he would have doubted Arcamo if he wasn’t holding on to the bouy, as it is, they are taking the turn judge’s word of the incident.
Alexander Reyes, also of Philippine Swimming Inc., said based on the rules of the competition, Kong would have to be disqualified and not just have time added to his finish time. Besides, Reyes had repeatedly announced before the race that participants must make sure to take a loop around the buoys.
Ocampo clocked 1:29:08.79.
Echavez was trailed by Cebu Blue Marlins SC’s Trina Caneda (1:42:05.54) in second place and Romylin Nina Ignacio in third place (1:48:05.55).
Finishing second and third in the Men’s category were NOGCC’s Alfred Valenti Rojo who finished the race in 1:31:02.30 and Lorenzo Xavi Abello who clocked 1:32:13.83.
MIXED 6K FUN CATEGORY
1st Michael Flores (1:20:01.90)
2nd Marlon Galo (1:36:52.57)
3rd Ian Gerard Rusiana (1:42:36.81)
MEN 2K COMPETITIVE
1st Jebb Cane (30:17.52)
2nd Aaron Grant Embuscado (30:53.70)
3rd Simon Harvey (30:56.65)
WOMEN 2K COMPETITIVE
1st Denise Marie Ong (32:51.23)
2nd Danielle Mae Ballesteros (32:55.95)
3rd Shane Allyne Pareja (36:52.87)
MIXED 2K FUN
1st Jenido Fariolen (31:19.42)
2nd Dale Rennie (51:29.38)
3rd Mario Marababol (1:00:40.74)
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