MANILA — The Philippine Aquatics, Inc. (PAI) National Age Group Championships kicked off on Friday at the Teofilo Yldefonso Swimming Pool, Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, with standout performances from national junior team members Jamesrey Mishael Ajido and Mishka Sy.

According to Philippines News Agency, the 15-year-old Ajido, despite recovering from a recent shoulder injury, secured a win in the boys’ 200-meter freestyle with a time of two minutes and 00.42 seconds. He was followed by Ashton Clyde Jose and Zoilo Larrazabal. Ajido’s participation was part of his recovery and preparation for national tryouts scheduled in August, as explained by his mother, Lovell Ajido, who highlighted his resilience and determination to test his progress post-therapy.

Earlier this year, Ajido had made headlines by winning gold in the 100m butterfly at the 11th Asian Age Group Championships, setting a new record previously held since 2019.

In the girls’ division, 19-year-old Sy dominated in both the 400m Individual Medley and the 200m freestyle in the over-17 category, showcasing her prowess against strong competitors like Aubrey Tom, Dianna Cruz, and Camille Buico.

The event also celebrated other victors such as Kyla Louise Bulaga and the Mojdeh siblings, Mikhael Jaspe and Behrouz Mohammad, among others. Young swimmers Yzac Valencia and Pia Ato also made notable contributions in their respective categories.

The championships were marked by a poignant moment as PAI secretary-general and former Philippine swimming star, Eric Buhain, along with other officials, observed a moment of silence for the late PAI executive director and coach Francisco ‘Chito’ Rivera. Rivera’s wife, Evangeline, expressed gratitude for the community’s support and shared a touching tribute to her late husband’s impact on Philippine swimming.

In a gesture of respect, Buhain and Akiko Guevara, president of the Philippine Olympian Association, presented a framed white t-shirt to Rivera’s family, underscoring his significant contributions to the sport. Buhain lamented Rivera’s absence during the implementation of new programs aimed at enhancing athlete development but vowed to continue his legacy through ongoing initiatives.

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