The first day of competition included Team ISV swimmers Adriel Sanes and Natalia Kiupers.
Kuipers was the first in the pool, competing in the Women’s 400-meter Freestyle. She finished the first heat with a time of 4:35.84, advancing to the B finals. Kuipers finished the afternoon with a time of 4:37.29, placing 8th in Final “B”. Kuipers has several races ahead, including the Women’s 100m, 200m, and 800m freestyle. It’s her second time competing in the Pan-American Games.
“I’m having a lot of fun. Meets like this with the Caribbean are a really good time because there’s so much energy, and it’s people I’ve grown up swimming with. I’m having a great time; it’s super fun,” said Natalia Kuipers, who’s also an Olympian and competed for the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Kuipers says representing the U.S. Virgin Islands at the 2023 Pan-American Games, and in competitions around the world is an honor.
“It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true; I feel so grateful,” Kuipers said. Following Kuipers on Saturday was Team ISV swimmer Adriel Sanes, competing in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke. Like Kuipers, it’s also Sanes’ second time competing in the Pan-American Games.
“It’s day one, and it’s already so much fun. I get to see all my friends who I grew up swimming with from other Caribbean countries, Central American countries, and South American countries,” said Adriel Sanes, who’s an Olympian for Team ISV and competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“It’s a great honor; it’s a privilege to be able to represent the Virgin Islands. Whether it’s the World Championships, Pan American Games, Central American Games, the Olympics two years ago, it’s a privilege to wear the VI flag at all times,” Sanes said.
Both Kuipers and Sanes have more meets ahead, as well as their teammate Maximillian Wilson, who competes and swims for the first time on Sunday, October 21st. Team ISV is competing amongst 8,000 athletes and has scheduled competitions all throughout the 2023 Pan-American Games.