• Molding swimming champions through the PSL grassroots program



    Since the birth of Philippine Swimming League (PSL), it has nothing in mind but to develop swimming champions capable of winning in international competitions like the Asian Games and the Olympics.

    The Southeast Asian Games is an easy task because Filipino tankers are at par with their Southeast Asian counterparts.

    Why not? Our country is an archipelago consisting of 7,100 islands. Many parts of the Philippines are surrounded by bodies of water especially Jolo, Sulu and Zam­boanga in Mindanao where children can swim before they can walk.

    But lack of grassroots development program, corruption and incompetence among sports officials get in the way of developing Filipino champion swimmers of international caliber.

    The National Sports Association (NSA) for swimming under the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is the Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSi) formerly Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA). Up to now, Psi remains to be an exclusive, for members only organization yet it is receiving government funding.

    Claiming the promise of “change” by President Rodrigo Dutertes’s administration, that fund must be used properly.

    The task falls on the shoulder of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.

    The PSC’s objectives are the following: to provide the leadership, formulate the policies and set the priorities and direction of all national amateur sports promotion and development, particularly giving emphasis on grassroots participation. To encourage wide participation of all sectors, government and private, in amateur sports promotion and development. And finally, to supplement government appropriations for sports promotion and development.

    After six years of toil, the PSL has developed 15-year-old Sean Terence Zamora into a competitive swimmer. Zamora’s first taste of international participation was in 2010 in Phuket, Thailand.

    It s good to take note of Singapore’s Joseph Isaac Schooling who beat Michael Phelps for the gold medal in 100m butterfly event in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

    Schooling, who was then 13 years old, and Zamora, nine years old, were both present during the 210 Phuket competition I’ve mentioned.

    In 2014 at the Singapore Island Country Club competition (the home base of Schooling) Zamora, 14 then, broke Schooling’s records in 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 100 freestyle and 100m backstroke.

    Last year, at the same venue, Zamora broke anew Schooling’s records in 50mbackstroke, 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley.

    PSL sent Zamora recently to train at Somerset Swimming Club under coach Roger Bruce of Perth, Australia before flying to a Singapore tilt. Bruce is a Hall of Famer and a trainer of Olympians.

    Zamora won six gold medals and broke six meet records including the 100m butterfly where he posted 58 seconds at the age of 15.

    Schooling won the 100m butterfly in Rio with a time of 50.39 seconds while Phelps along with Chad de Clos of South Africa and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary—all finished second with 51.14.

    The other outstanding young swimmers nurtured by PSL are Kyla Soguilon Michaela Jasmine Mojdeh, Aubrey Tom, Marc Bryan Dula and Estelle Margaret Mendez.

    The junior record holder in backstroke Jerard Dominic Jacinto, now 15 years old, is a product of PSL’s grassroots development program.

    In Hong Kong, Jacinto defeated fellow Filipinos that are older than him.

    Joy Rodgers, Philippine national record holder in 50m breaststroke, from the University of the Philippines, was also a PSL swimmer. She was part of the PSL team that competed in the 2016 All-Star Challenge in Australia.

    Joan Mojdeh, parent of PSL swimmer Jasmine Mojdeh said: “The PSL is developing champions, we have been with them since joining their learn to swim program when my daughter Jasmine was just six years old. She is now 10 years old and I can see that she is one of the best swimmers if not the best in her age level in the country now. She has competed against swimmers from Australia, South Africa, Japan, China, Singapore and Thailand.”

    It is very important that the PSC wield its authority to exercise supervisory and visitorial powers over the national sports associations in connection with their sports promotion and development programs particularly in connection with the financial assistance extended by the Commission. The PSC must impose sanctions upon any national sports association, institution, association, body, entity, team, athlete and sports official for violation of its policies, rules and regulations. Lastly, it must confer, extend and grant awards, benefits and privileges to athletes, coaches and officials for outstanding performances in national and international competitions.

    The PSL believes that through its grassroots development program, it is within reach to create a Filipino champion swimmer fit to compete in the 2018 Youth Olympics and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


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