• Sports and academics: A balancing act

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    SUSAN PAPA

    SUSAN PAPA

    (First of two parts)

    In my first column, I significantly stressed that the youth is our light.

    God is our light and the Philippine Swimming League (PSL) is developing our youth to be our light, and for them to be in a righteous path.

    We build a swimming community to change lives and build a nation with the help of God who gives light to our youth.

    The youth is our future and PSL is spearheading transformation. We unify coaches, parents and swimmers and live according to the dictation of the Holy Spirit.

    Ashley Marie Rances is one of those athletes from Bicol who live her life according to PSL’s objectives in character and education building.

    She described sports and academics as a balancing act. Here is what Ashley has to say.

    “I have been a competitive swimmer for quite some time now. And, engaging in this very tedious sport, while pursuing academic excellence, is a challenge in itself.

    According to the dictionary, swimming is a sport or activity of moving through water by moving your arms and legs. It is the act, art or sport of one that swims and dives. Swimming is fun, most will say. Swimming is usually done in the summer, where the sun is shining brighter than ever and everybody’s out for a vacation either at pools or at breathtaking beaches and resorts.

    I can still remember when I first learned how to swim. I was six years old then, it was very difficult and very exhausting, considering I was probably one of the youngest among the group of kids in one batch. I remembered myself in a little orange swimsuit, pulling, kicking and trying my best not to drown. Back then; I imagined that the pool was as big as the ocean and that if I learned to swim fast enough, I could swim with fishes and dolphins. Of course, back then; I had a huge and creative imagination.

    Anyway, I eventually learned the basics after 12 sessions. I then knew how to take bubbles when I get tired, how to swim freestyle and partially, how to swim using the other strokes. Unfortunately, when the time to graduate from the basics came, I didn’t know how to dive. I didn’t know we had to dive first before we could swim. So that day, then and there, although I managed to jump and not really dive, I barely managed to get back to the surface of the water and swim. Oh yes, I was so scared after I got out of the pool that I swore that I would never swim again.

    Your mind’s probably asking, ‘how did you become a competitive swimmer?’ Well, it was the summer of 2010 when my father enrolled me and my sister in a learn-to-swim program. The reason why he did was for us to have a productive summer vacation and to do something else other than stay at home and play computer games. I agreed and broke my oath because I couldn’t really say no to my dad and besides, I really did miss swimming. So, again, I swam and this time, my sister and I both learned how to swim. This time, we both learned how to dive, too.

    I guess my father really is the force that pushed me to become a swimmer. He encouraged me to pursue advance and competitive swimming after the swim coach told him about the effectiveness of my swim strokes. He is the one who’s been very patient in taking me to the pool for swim practice and who’s been supporting me all the way. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be the swimmer that I am today. Without his persistence, I could not have succeeded in both worlds – sports and academics.

    My life as a student and as a swimmer is routine where I swim, eat, study, sleep, swim some more and study again. It’s an energy-draining routine. It’s a never ending cycle and very challenging. Despite tons of homework and school projects, I had to do two hours training on a daily basis, except Sundays. Rain or shine, hot or cold weather, I had to swim distances. I train according to my events. It includes workouts in land and water. The two-hours training gets longer when I am preparing for a competition. A morning swim, as early as 6 a.m., is added to the routine. Just like any other athlete, I endure pain and I need to give everything I’ve got in order to improve. All the morning swims and night swims in the cold water of the pool are very important. Every pull and every kick in every lap is worth it. Every training is a loss. One thing that keeps me going is the reason why I train in the first place. It’s to be better at my game. It has always been my aim to excel at everything I do and that includes my sport.”

    (to be continued)

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