Mokihana’s ‘success’ at Sparky’s deeper than swimming

LIHU‘E — Tory Taboniar, 10, had a perfect meet, improving in all of the events he swam in during the Charles “Sparky” Kawamoto ABC Meet on the Big Island during the weekend where rainfall and flooding were on people’s minds.

But Micah-Kamuela Nobriga-Ferris, finishing near-perfect with all but one improvement along with Alana Tamashiro, was selected by Mokihana Aquatics Coach Orlando “O” Anaya as the Swimmer of the Meet.

“As the only entrant in most of his events, Boys 15-18, he had no one to push him,” Anaya said. “In every race he swam by himself, he set a personal best time, including two AA times and three Sparky Meet records: 100 Free in 59.66, breaking the 2008 record set by a former Mokihana swimmer, Junior Soltren, 100 Breast in 1:22.18 and 100 Back in 1:17.29, breaking records set in 2008.”

But Nobriga-Ferris’ achievement goes deeper than the pool, Anaya said.

“He helped me this weekend from airport to airport,” the coach said. “He was my assistant coach, helping check in swimmers and keeping track of their times. He was the ultimate chaperone, keeping everyone together and in line, making sure they listened to Coach O. He was our team leader, congratulating all swimmers for all swims, good or bad. And he swam really fast, too.”

Anaya said seven swimmers and five support people are the success of the Mokihana program at the Sparky’s meet where Mokihana Aquatics has been swimming for 21 of the meet’s 25-year history.

Jake Valenti, 8, had a goal shared with Anaya — no DisQualifications! Valenti finished the meet with times in all eight events he swam in, including his Breast and Butterfly races which he swam “legally” for the first time, his best showing coming in the 50 Freestyle where he touched at 54.64, chopping a whopping 15.48 over his seeded time.

Valenti, in addition to pocketing his achievements, earned a new nickname of “Little Big Man” after Anaya got a call from Valenti’s dad inquiring on how the 8-year-old was doing.

Luke Roberts, 11, and Marcus Robinson, 11, had good swims, Robinson improving in six races and Roberts improving in two events, but both boys ended up with two A time standards, and unfortunately, one DQ each, Anaya said.

“Sometimes the excitement of the race seems to take precedent over the techniques and details we work on in practice,” he said. “But both our ‘brothers’ had four first place wins out of eight races entered which is awesome.”

Tamashiro, 11, entering the races with a single No. 1 seed, finished with six first place wins and seven best times in eight events, including five A time standards, her best showing coming in the 100 Individual Medley where she touched first  at 1:28.11 for a 23.64 improvement.

Sara Funtanilla, 10, was heading for the wall in the 50 Back, but unfortunately, dove for the finish a little too early, being underwater prior to the finish and getting a DQ, her only one in eight events.

But the 10-year-old posted improvements in five events, her best showing coming in the 100 IM where she touched at 1:40.76 for an 18.24 improvement and an A time standard.

Tory Taboniar, 10, was most impressive, Anaya said.

“On paper, he looks like a swimming god,” the coach said. “All best times, more than half by double digits. A perfect meet, one Sparky Meet Record in the 100 Free (1:19.36), breaking the record set in 2008.”

Taboniar finished winning six of his seven races, finishing runner up in his seventh race.

“Most importantly, he made three AA (Invitational) times to add to the two he already holds and posted A times in all other races,” Anaya said. “He must now compete at the Invitational level with the best swimmers in the state.”

Anaya said prior to the meet on the Big Island, everyone worked on turns and it paid off.

“There were so many races where our swimmers were behind at the turns, only to come out ahead,” Anaya said. “Numerous times. It was so awesome to see and yet, again, it goes back to the swimmers. They were awesome!”

Anaya said this kind of meet makes him realize how appreciative he is of the program and the support it gets from the parents and community.

“I’ve seen many swimmers and families come and go,” Anaya said. “I love it when they grow beyond just fast swimming. It is so amazing to see the fruits of our labors in such phenomenal personal achievement.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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