PH swimmers desperately trying to stay afloat
Gone are the days when Filipino swimmers are common fixtures on the gold-medal podium while the Philippine national anthem plays in the background following triumphs in the Southeast Asian Games.
After multiple SEA Games gold medalist Miguel Molina bade the sport adieu eight years ago, the country’s medal machine in the pool conked out.
The past four editions of the biennial Games were cruel witnesses to its decline as Philippine swimming brought home a variety of silver and bronze medals—except for the most precious color of all.
Reason: The most promising tankers in the land are not readily available for the national team.
This despite a deep pool nationwide that could easily reach thousands with the Palarong Pambansa, Batang Pinoy Games and national-level swim meets churning out talents annually.
The issue is purely a by-product of the misunderstanding between the Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI), the local governing body in aquatics, and the Philippine Swimming League (PSL), which boasts 150 swimming clubs nationwide.
With long-time PSI president Mark Joseph gone, the national swimming federation has installed a new president in Lani Velasco, who uses her own resources.
But the rift between these groups isn’t the only problem hounding the national team.
Velasco’s leadership now hangs in the balance in the eyes of the Philippine Olympic Committee after the local Olympic body recently questioned Velasco’s election, suspended the PSI and appointed former International Olympic Committee representative Frank Elizalde as caretaker of the sport.
But the Asia Swimming Federation has notified the POC that Velasco’s recognition from the International Swimming Federation (Fina) stays.
“I am a swim parent who volunteered to serve and help all swimmers and coaches,” said Velasco. “I followed the rules in all my actions and stand firm that I have been properly elected.”
“The AASF-Fina has recognized the validity of the elections so I am hopeful for a clear and positive resolution of this issue for the sake of our Philippine swimmers,” she added.
Former swimming ace Akiko Thomson-Guevara said the divided atmosphere in the swimming community the last few years hasn’t proved beneficial to the sport at all.
“While other countries have put even more priority and investment into the sport, we haven’t shifted gears,” said Thomson-Guevara, a three-time Olympian and multiple gold medalist in the SEA Games.
“We desperately need to unite and make the sport fun again.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.