Swimmers off to US

Main Stories, Sports

The National, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TOP PNG swimmers Judith Meauri and Ian Nakmai were awarded two-year swimming scholarships in the US.
Both 19-year-olds have represented the country at various regional and world events including the Arafura Games and world championships.
The scholarships are to Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge, Iowa, and were made possible through the Oceania National Olympic Committee and the PNG Sports Federation and Olympic Committee.
PNGSFOC secretary-general Auvita Rapilla was pleased with the announcement saying the scholarships would give two of the country’s elite swimmers an opportunity to further develop their talents.
“PNGSFOC are very proud and it is a privilege to have two of our elite swimmers being given scholarships to continue their training and schooling in the USA for the next two years,”  Auvita said.
ONOC executive director Dennis Miller echoed the sentiments saying it was a way forward for PNG swimmers.
“This is a new opportunity for talented student athletes from the region, and while the initial offer may be considered somewhat limited in terms of numbers and NOCs involved, I believe that there is potential for further development in the years to come – as has been shown with the Tennis Scholarships programme,” Miller said.
ONOC regional development officer Dan O’Connell, who re­searched the possibilities for sports scholarships in the US for promising Pacific Island students in various sports last year, secured scholarship of­fers from the Iowa Central Community College in swimming, athletics and football, as well as continuing tennis scholarships at the New Mexico Military Institute. 
Last month, the Iowa Central Community College head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach Dee Brown and O’Connell visited Port Moresby to meet the athletes and discuss the scholarship and, what is expected of them during the two years away both in school and in the pool.
 “We are thrilled to be offering scholarships to two of the best swimmers in PNG who have completed and graduated year 12.
“Not only are we exci­ted for Ian, Judith and Iowa Central but for the opportunities this may provide to future swimmers and athletes from Oceania,”  Brown said.
The pair will participate in a intensive swim programme under head swim coach Jake Anderson at Iowa Central.
The programme includes a training trip to south Florida over the winter break (December), gym facilities on campus, a full-time athletic trainer, apartment style living complexes, available work study, an academic advisor for swimming, ex­posure to level four coaches, trip to the NJCAA swimming nationals in San Antonio, Texas and committed mentors that stress academics as well as athletics.
The two scholarships are being funded by Iowa Central Community College and ONOC.