During the 2010 Guinness Swim Relay organized by the Philippine Swimming League and former Senator Nikki Coseteng, I met a young swimmer named Jan Vincent “JV” Llaguno.
Despite a threat of suspension from then Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (now Philippine Swimming Incorporated) president Mark Joseph, he insisted to participate having in mind that he just want to swim.
“Gusto ko lang po magswim, may masama po ba dun?,” the then 12-year old JV said.
He learned how to deal with conflict in the swimming community and chose to follow the right path.
JV is now a varsity swimmer of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas and a dean’s lister since freshman. He will be leaving for Beijing, China to attend the Forthcoming School Organization Congress 2016.
Let me share his statement when I interviewed him on how he considered himself the blessed among the rest though he may not be the best.
His parents raised him in a simple and humble lifestyle.
“My father’s dedication and passion for sports inspired me to be a part of the so-called “world of sports.”
At the age of eight, he was diagnosed with first stage aplastic anemia that needs full time rest to the extent that his parents considered him to stop schooling.
But his parents instead decided to enroll him in a Learn-to-Swim Program under the Mayon Swim Club (MYSC), in order for him not to feel physically ill.
That time, MYSC was the only swimming club in Legazpi City—a PASA-registered club, where he finished the basic course.
Because of his enthusiasm and determination, he was recommended to take the advance lesson and found himself in the competitive level, forgetting that he was sick.
Swimming became his daily exercise while under treatment and after two years of complete and continuous medication and swimming, the doctor declared him free of his illness.
Thereafter, G-league swim meets came to JV’s life, anew experience in addition to what he had in MYSC.
”I felt happiness whenever I was able to travel to STASA places (Laguna, Rizal, Cavite) where I am competing for G-leagues elimination leg series and Trace College in Laguna for G-leagues championship meets,” JV said.
In 2009 Palarong Bikol, JV was able to qualify in the national level – the Palarong Pambansa 2010 in Tarlac.
“Palarong Pambansa 2010 was my first and last Palarong Pambansa competition during my elementary years. I thought, to be part of this meet will mean great and so much to me. Yes, true, so much, because this was the worst meet I experienced so far,” he said.
JV revealed further that Palarong Pambansa is a DepEd-organized competition. DepEd Region 5 assigned a “not-so-well-versed” swimming coach.
“Because he is unknowledgeable of his duties as a coach, he, unintentionally scratched my two individual events and gave those to my co-swimmer, whom during the day of the competition, was not present anymore. This experience gave me psychological damages and made me decide not to swim ever,” he said.
“But, my parents did not lose hope and encouraged me to swim again,” he added.
To widen JV’s experience, his parents let him join the Guinness World of Swim Relay, “The Longest Swim” sponsored by the Philippine Swimming League and Diliman Preparatory School held in Quezon City in December of 2010.
“Coach Susan Papa offered to train me, maybe seeing my potential, determination and enthusiasm. I was then became a trainee and scholar of PSL and the Susan Papa Swim Academy. This gave me the best opportunity, for through PSL, I became the first Legazpeño swimmer to participate in the swimming competition in Hongkong while I was under SPSA’s training period,” JV continued.
“Under PSL, I personally gained self-confidence, determination and worthwhile experiences as a competitive swimmer,” JV stressed.
Recently, JV was able to participate in the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju, South Korea.
“PSL gave me a chance to widen my horizons and helped me gain my 100 percent sports scholarship now at De La Salle University of Dasmariñas.”
I tried to let JV express and say whatever he wants to say.
Right now, JV is a sophomore taking up Bachelor of Physical Education.
He is proud to say that the motivation PSL gave him, made him more confident to be a student-athlete. He promised that he would be faithful, dedicated and grateful to the God creator and to the PSL.
JV lifted his head high, and proudly said, “I may not be the best but I am blessed.”