Fokai Amphibious Division: Cocos Crossing
With the sun barely above the horizon, swimmers anxiously awaited the ferry that would take them to Cocos Island for the 22nd International Invitational Cocos Crossing.
The contestants lined the Merizo pier, massaging their muscles and performing stretches in preparation for the race. Soon, all the swimmers were transported to the Cocos pier, and after a short explanation of the rules, the sound of an air horn signaled the beginning of the race, causing the swimmers to burst into action.
Back at the Merizo pier, supporters kept their eyes peeled for their particular swimmers.
“Ken Barcinas currently has the first-place title,” said Tsunami Swim Club secretary Maria Cruz. “He’s trying to repeat that and break his record.”
As if on cue, Barcinas and Tasi Limtiaco, last year’s first- and second-place winners, respectively, were the first to be seen. The racers swam neck-and-neck past the last buoy, and neither wanted to let up. Each stroke seemed to be even. Family, friends and coaches cheered on the swimmers from the pier.
Limtiaco claims 2nd
In the last few seconds, Barcinas took a small lead and hustled his way up the ramp to the first-place card. Limtiaco followed in second.
“Tasi’s been swimming since he was seven,” said Rob Limtiaco, Tasi’s father. “I’ve always wanted him to do this. It’s really good for the kids.”
Justin Fell, a 13-year-old student at St. John’s School, took the fourth-place title. The young swimmer said the hardest part of the race was swimming in the deep, open water. “The depth of the water was a little scary,” said Fell. “I got scared at the end because I was alone.”
For Barcinas, the scariest part was when he saw Tasi Limtiaco in front of him. “He was going the wrong way at first, but then he glided in front of me and started going the right way at the very end,” said Barcinas. “I also ripped my suit, so I was scared everything would show when I got out of the water.” Still, Barcinas managed to reach the finish line a split second faster than Tasi Limtiaco.
His time, 38 minutes and 20 seconds, turned out to be one minute slower than last year’s time. “That’s the unofficial time, and they’re saying the course was a little bit longer this year,” he explained. “I’m just happy to win this race three years in a row.”
No time for rest
Barcinas arrived from Japan on Thursday and competed in back-to-back races over the weekend before doing the Cocos Crossing. Barcinas attends Yamanashi Gakuin University in Japan. The university has an excellent swimming program, with two members of the school’s swim team participating in the Olympics this year.
“I was hoping to quality for the Olympics this year, but I couldn’t,” said Barcinas. Swimmers must meet the official Olympic standard time to be given the opportunity to join.
Tasi Limtiaco, who plans to attend Yamanashi Gakuin University, shares similar goals. “I would like to go train in college and make it to the Olympics,” said Tasi Limtiaco. “I want to thank my family, my girlfriend, my coach for their support.”
After a friendly knock on the shoulder from Barcinas, Tasi Limtiaco smiled and said: “We’re friends outside the ocean.”
Despite coming in second place for the third year in a row, Tasi Limtiaco confidently declared, “I’m definitely going to try again next year.”