Many were surprised when I wrote in my last column that Universality Places were meant for Unqualified Athletes.
Yes, that is true in the case of swimming. No Filipino swimmer made the Olympic qualifying time (OQT) during the 2012 London Olympics.
I also wanted to debunk the false premise that swimmers must join the Philippine Swimming Incorporated (PSI) at an early age to have a chance to compete in the Olympics.
“Every athlete wants to make it to the Olympics. I was one of them dati. Nag-myembro kami sa PSI, thinking if we want to go to the Olympics, we have to join PSI, para hindi masayang kahit may bayad ang membership sa team, coaches and swimmers, basta ang isip namin Olympics, Olympics, pero ngayon ko lang naintindihan na may qualifying time,” Jan Vincent Llaguno said.
“Nasa probinsiya kami at ang sinasabi kailangan member ka ng PSI para makapunta sa Olympics, pero malalim pala, hindi basta ganoon lang. Kaya at the end of the day, swimmers get disappointed, as they missed other great opportunities sa ibang association dahil sa takot na hindi makapag-Olympics,” ended Llaguno.
Many were inclined to this kind of thinking.
Swimmers who achieve the OQT/“A” in one or more individual events are automatically qualified to join the Olympic Games.
Swimmers who achieve the OST/“B,” are not qualified to join outright, they have to be invited by FINA to participate in the Olympic Games.
For the World Universiade Games, it is the Philippine Swimming League-Federation of Schools Sports Association of the Philippines (PSL-FESSAP) that set the qualifying time standard.
Once a swimmer achieved the PSL-FESSAP qualifying time standard, he/she during competition, will be fully subsidized by PSL with airfare and accommodation provided the swimmer meets the following qualifications:
Be a national of the country/region they represent.
Be a least 17 years old and less than 28 years of age on January 1, 2017 (born between 1989 and 1999).
Students who are currently officially registered as preceding toward a degree or diploma at the university or similar institute whose status are recognized by the appropriate national academic authority of their country/region.
Or, he or she, is a former student of the institutions mentioned in (3) who have obtained their academic degree or diploma in the year preceding the World Universiade Games.
For those swimmers that did not make the qualifying time set by PSL-FESSAP, a swimmer have to be invited by PSL-FESSAP to participate in the FESSAP World Universiade Games.
De La Salle University’s Jason Difun¬torum recalling his “once in a lifetime” experience during the 2015 World Universiade Games said: “I am really grateful that I was given this kind of opportunity to represent our country. I would not trade this for anything in the world.”
“I want to get another chance to compete in the next Universiade. I don’t mind if I won’t be able to compete in other national games such as the UAAP because the Universiade is truly way out of reach compared to the UAAP. Dream big. Don’t just dream of competing in the UAAP or Palarong Pambansa. Aim to compete in competitions like the Universiade and the Olympics,” added Difuntorum.
PSL is bound to send 96 swimmers (48 males and 48 females) to the 2017 World Universiade Games to be held in Taipei, Taiwan.