Hope floats: With eye on Tokyo, PH tankers seek end of drought
Philippine swimming, which has fallen on hard times the past decade, is hoping to make a comeback in the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games.
With a 27-strong delegation, Team Philippines is hoping to at least break a 10-year gold medal drought in the biennial meet, according to Philippine Swimming Inc. president Lani Velasco.
“I don’t want to make any predictions but we have a promising bunch of athletes who will be going all out for the SEA Games,” Velasco told the Inquirer on Saturday.
This edition of the SEA Games will also serve as a qualifying meet for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, making it even more compelling for Filipino swimmers to perform their best.
“Our goal is to produce an Olympian from here,” added Velasco of the meet that will be held on Dec. 4 to 9 at New Clark City in Tarlac.
The Philippines will also field two swimmers in open water, three in diving and 26 in men’s and women’s water polo competitions, which will start on Nov. 26, five days before the opening ceremony.
Among the bright spots for the Philippines’ campaign are US-based swimmers James Deiparine, Remedy Rule, Jarod Hatch, Luke Gebbie and homegrown bet Gerard Jacinto.
Olympians Jessie King Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi will also see action for the Philippines.
Deiparine, who hails from Seattle, will compete in back stroke events. He won two silvers during the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Rule is a first-timer from Texas, while Gebbie, who already secured an Olympic qualifying B meet in 100-meter freestyle, will be coming from Australia.
Jacinto is coming over from his training camp in the United States where he managed to snag a scholarship from Texas A&M despite only arriving there in September.
The last time the Philippines won a gold in the SEA Games was in 2009, where the country picked up four mints courtesy of Miguel Molina, who won two, Ryan Arabejo and Daniel Coakley.
Hope for a swim gold floats on the fact that the country won titles in the last two times it hosted the biennial meet.
In the 1991 SEA Games held here, the Philippines, powered by Eric Buhain’s five-gold splurge, amassed 10 golds. The Philippines bagged four in the 2005 edition, which was the last time the Games was staged in the country.
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