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Velasco: Fresh talents to keep PH swimming afloat

/ 05:10 AM April 17, 2022
FILE - Filipino swimmer Luke Gebbie. INQUIRER.net/Tristan Tamayo

FILE – Filipino swimmer Luke Gebbie. INQUIRER.net/Tristan Tamayo

Filipino swimmers led by Luke Gebbie and Remedy Rule have shattered 20 national records over the past three years, including six at the height of the pandemic last year. Given that swimming is a measurable sport, things look promising for Team Philippines.

With Gebbie and Rule as rudders, Philippine swimming hopes for a steady rise from 10 years of zero gold medals in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to a slow, calculated campaign against neighboring countries which never stopped improving like Singapore and Malaysia.

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“[W]e hope that our performance in the 2019 SEAG and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is only the beginning,” said reelected PhilippIne Swimming Inc. (PSI) president Lani Velasco. “We have a number of new national records set in 2021 amidst the pandemic. Hopefully, that’s a good indicator.”

Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSI) chairman and president Lailani Velasco, middle, with fellow board of trustees following the PSI election during their congress at the New Coast Hotel in Manila. With her are, from left, Edgardo Lora, Conreylito Dalisay, Vero Paloma, Sherwyn Santiago, Jefferson Lao, (front row) Lea Antig and Antoninette Mendoza. (PSI Photo

Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSI) chairman and president Lailani Velasco, middle, with fellow board of trustees following the PSI election during their congress at the New Coast Hotel in Manila. With her are, from left, Edgardo Lora, Conreylito Dalisay, Vero Paloma, Sherwyn Santiago, Jefferson Lao, (front row) Lea Antig and Antoninette Mendoza. PSI Photo

The Philippines ended a 10-year gold drought in the SEA Games when James Deiparine ruled the 100-meter breaststroke during the 2019 edition held here in the country.

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Gebbie and Rule, meanwhile, competed in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

But Velasco is managing expectations for next month’s SEA Games, which will be hosted by Vietnam.

“[W]e have modest goals for Hanoi, but we definitely hope to pull a surprise in Cambodia (2023) given more foreign exposure and foreign consultants,” she said.

There has been a tangible progress made by Filipino swimmers, who have reset Filipino standard times, the latest by Thanya dela Cruz (32.42 seconds in women’s 50m breaststroke) during the PSI Nationals last February.

“We do have grassroots talents just waiting to gain more experience and join the senior squad. Should we be able to continue with our regular calendar of activities, these talents should be able to continuously improve,” said Velasco.

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TAGS: Lani Velasco, Philippine swimming, PSI, SEA Games
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