A TOTAL of 27 swimmers, a blend of Fil-foreigners and homegrown talents, will try to break the country’s 10-year drought when they plunge into action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games swimming championships at the ultra-modern New Clark City Aquatic Center in Capas, Tarlac in December.
Two-time Olympians Jessie Khing Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi, as well as Fil-Ams Remedy Rule, Nicole Oliva and James Deiparine, spearhead the contingent composed of 14 men and 13 women who passed a series of rigid tryouts.
Making her third trip to the regional games is 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games veteran and backstroke specialist Roxanne Yu, who considers the coming SEA Games her swan song from international competition.
Among the local tankers making their SEA Games debuts are Xiandi Chua and the Barreto siblings, Miguel and Rafael, who hope they can hold their own against the best swimmers in the region.
Other newcomers are Fil-Kiwi freestyler Luke Gebbie, Fil-Ams Miranda Renner and Chloe Isleta plus up-and-coming tankers Jerard Jacinto and Desirae Mangaoang.
Majority of them saw action in the first National Open swimming championships organized by the Philippine Swimming Inc. and held at the 2,000-seat New Clark Aquatic Center, the only facility in the country recently certified by the International Swimming Federation (FINA).
Named as men’s head coach is Sherwin Santiago while Jenny Rose Guerrero will call the shots for the women’s squad.
“I congratulate our swimmers who have successfully made the final cut, and are now embarked for the 30th Southeast Asian Games. This is your proud moment,” noted PSI president Lani Velasco in her letter addressed to the athletes and coaches posted on her Facebook account last Tuesday.
Velasco recalled that it was 10 years ago that local tankers last won gold medals in the SEA Games – a pair from Miguel Molino and a mint each from Dennis Coakley and Ryan Arabejo in the 2009 Laos edition – “so that this challenge to put an end to this drought becomes more urgent and pressing.
“The PSI is committed to our swimmers to optimize the conditions for your training…so that you and your coaches can fully focus on the golds and improving our medal tally (at the SEA Games).”
Pinoy tankers had a mediocre outing in the 2017 Malaysia SEA Games, bringing home three silvers and four bronze medals and winding up sixth overall among the 11 countries that competed in the event.