MANILA – Olympian Jasmine Alkhaldi and US-based Jarod Hatch will kick off the Philippine campaign at the 20th World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan on Sunday.

Alkhaldi, a veteran of the 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio de Janeiro) Olympics, will compete in the women’s 100m butterfly while Hatch will see action in the men’s 50m butterfly.

Thanya Angelyn Dela Cruz, Xandi Chua, and Jerard Dominic Jacinto are also part of Team Philippines coached by Ryan Paolo Arabejo, who also represented the country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

They will aim for the highest World Aquatics points and boost their chances to make the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Dela Cruz (women’s 100m breaststroke) and Jacinto (men’s 100m backstroke) are scheduled to compete on July 24; Hatch (100m butterfly) and Chua (women’s 200m backstroke) on July 28; Alkhaldi (50m freestyle), Dela Cruz (50m breaststroke) and Jacinto (50m backstroke) on July 29; and Chua (400m Individual Medley) on July 30.

All five are medalists at the 2023 Cambodia Southeast Asian (SEA) Games where the swimming team produced two golds, six silvers and eight bronzes.

Chua ruled the 200m backstroke (2:13.20), setting new national and SEA Games records. She also took the silver medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay (with Alkhaldi, Miranda Renner, and Teia Isabella Salvino), and the bronze medal in the 400m Individual Medley (4:52.08) and 4x200m freestyle relay (with Alkhaldi, Salvino, and Chloe Isleta).

Jacinto captured two silvers — 50m backstroke with a national record of 25.56 seconds and mixed 4x100m medley relay (with Alkhaldi, Hatch, and Angelyn Cacho) — and a bronze in the 100m backstroke (55.99s).

Alkhaldi bagged a silver in the 100m freestyle (56.12s) and bronze medals in 50m (27.02s) and 100m (1:00.45) butterfly.

Hatch added two more bronzes to his medal haul, posting national records in the 50m (23.89s) and 100m (52.91s) butterfly events.

Chua and Hatch are first-timers in the Fukuoka World Championships, which is a long course (50-meter pool) edition.

“I never stopped training. After the SEA Games, I went back to Australia to continue my training with coach Michal Skrodzki of Nunawading Swimming Club for the Fukuoka World Championships as well as the Asian Games (in September),” Chua told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Saturday.

Chua is a protégé of Carlos “Pinky” Brosas, who represented the Philippines at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

“It’s my first time to compete in a World Championship event which is, by far, the highest level of competition I qualified for in my 18 years of swimming. I’m just really so excited to meet and race alongside the best swimmers in the world,” said the 21-year-old BS Entrepreneurship student from De La Salle University.

Batangas 1st District Rep. Eric Buhain, secretary of the Philippine Swimming, Inc., said the presence of the world’s top swimmers makes the Fukuoka Worlds a fierce competition.

“But our athletes are out to experience the atmosphere in a high-level tournament, try to improve their personal best time, and sharpen their skills,” the former Philippine Sports Commission chair and champion swimmer, said in a statement. (PNA)