LIHUE — Monday was Alana Cayabyab Day at the Kauai High School pool.
“She deserves this,” said Mokihana Aquatics Coach Orlando “O” Anaya. “I cannot think of a swimmer with more accomplishments than Alana had at the 65th Annual Keo Nakama Invitational, the longest running Invitational swim meet, in the U.S., at the Veterans Aquatic Center on Oahu.”
With Coach Anaya proclaiming Monday as Alana Cayabyab Day, the 10-year-old swimmer had the choice of either practicing or a free swim with her Mokihana Aquatics brothers and sisters.
The choice was easy, the soft-spoken girl opting for free swim, scattering the swimmers into the pool.
“When she entered the Keo Nakama over the weekend, she had only one state (QUAL) time,” Anaya said. “By the time she was through, she picked up five new QUAL times, and despite being disqualified on one event, missed state times in three events, each one by less than a second. That’s the snap of a finger!”
In her DQ event, she was on pace to swim faster than her seeded time, Anaya said.
“In my 30 years of coaching, I have never seen anything like this,” the coach told the gathering of parents Monday. “She was that awesome. You had to be there.”
Cayabyab’s first Invitational medal, a bronze, came in the 100 butterfly where she touched at 1:31.90, a 9.26 improvement over her seeded swim.
“To think, this little girl from Kauai was winning events from the outside lane 1 and 10, and by more than a body’s length,” Anaya said, unable to contain his excitement over the swimmer’s achievements. “And in her third place performance, the other two swimmers were ZONE swimmers.”
Cayabyab, swimming in 10 events, finished with a DQ, and six QUAL swims with with improvements in eight swims. Her biggest improvement came in the 200 individual medley, where she touched at 3:19.61, an improvement of 13.38, and in the 100 breaststroke where she stopped the clock at 1:49.52, an improvement of 10.54.
“It was a lot of fun,” Cayabyab said softly.
Joining Cayabyab, fellow Mokihana Aquatics swimmer Luke Roberts, 12, interrupted his family’s vacation to swim in three events, or one day, posting improvements in two of the three events.
His best showing came in the 100 backstroke where he touched at 1:29.35, an improvement of 10.19.
“This will be Luke’s final swim before aging up,” Anaya said. “We’ve already started looking at times in the 13-14 age grouping, one of the harder age groups.”
Anaya said Cayabyab, on the other hand, will be able to swim two meets in her age group before aging up.
“She’ll be at the state long course meet in one-and-a-half weeks at the Kihei Aquatic Center on Maui,” Anaya said. “Following her performance at Keo Nakama, she should be able to make finals at the Long Course champs.”
After starting with the Mokihana Learn to Swim program three years ago, Cayabyab was announced as the latest and youngest girls co-captain.
“She showed why,” Anaya said. “Not just beause of her ‘breakout’ weekend, but for the way she worked for it. Long, long days. Alana asks if we need help for the Learn to Swim program, and stays for team practice after the program. We push her, and she goes for it. Alana herself told me this weekend that she is not even a swimmer, yet. She is right.”
Visit www.mokihanaaquatics.com for more information.
• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.