I always believe that swimming is one sport that the Philippines can excel with, why not; bodies of water surround our 7,107 islands.
However, the imperative of recruiting schools and coaches that “if you want to be in the national team and compete abroad, you must join the Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI)” is ridiculous, unfair and must be stopped.
This is prevalent in some member schools of University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
We must not forget that they did it to Claire Adorna in 2013.
Adorna was given the letter, which is published with this column. When Adorna was prohibited from joining the World Universiade, she refused to be bullied and the Philippine Swimming League (PSL) gave legal assistance to her.
The letter that Adorna received clearly stated that she was not to swim for the Philippines under FESSAP, the sole member in Fédération Interna¬tionale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) in the 2013 World Universiade held in Kazan, Russia.
But thanks to Sen. Nikki Coseteng who visited University of the Philippines President Alfredo Pascual with Adorna and Mico Garchitorena. A letter from PSL legal counsel Atty. Ma. Luz Arzaga-Mendoza was also handed to Pascual.
Through the intervention, Adorna was able to swim both in Universiade and the UAAP.
Adorna stood for what is right, she was a heroine.
She is a PSL swimmer, who won the first gold medal for the Philippines in triathlon during the 2015 Southeast Asian Games held in Singapore.
The restrictions and prohibitions to join the World Universiade that deny swimmers opportunity to compete abroad are still going on. And Mach Frigilliana, whom I have known to be a PSI coach, affirmed this.
He commented, “yung mga swimmers na pag sumali sa PSL baka ipitin ng PSI. Kaya hindi makasali karamihan ng PSI swimmers sa PSL kasi baka ipitin sila ng PSI.”
This unscrupulous swimming officials lack the knowledge to spot potential champion swimmers and failed to realize that The Universiade is the second largest competition in the world after the Olympics. Joining the Universiade gives Filipino swimmers opportunity to compete against top college athletes from 190 countries among them USA, Russia, Africa, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, China, Japan and Australia.
Our local swimmers, coaches and the parents of athletes must be enlightened that it is not only PSI that could bring local swimmers to the Olympics.
The truth is that the only way to make it to the Olympics is to meet the qualifying standard set by FINA or the National Olympic Committee (Philippine Olympic Committee for the Philippines). In case no swimmers have met the Olympic qualifying time standard, the country could still send one male and one female swimmer (called wildcard or Universality places), provided those swimmers participated in the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan in 2015.
Philippine swimmers that participated in the FINA World Championship in Kazan, Russia that I know of are Jessie Lacuna and Joshua Hall for the men’s division, and Jasmine Alkhaldi and Roxane Yu for the women’s division.
It is worth to mention that swimmers from PSL were able to compete in the Aquatics Palace in Kazan Russia among them Gian Berino, Claire Adorna and Mico Gachitorina.
Even non-PSI swimmers can make it to the Olympics as long as he or she meets the qualifying mark; the swimmer is a Filipino citizen and is complying with the provisions of the Olympic Charter.
It is the POC that has the prerogative and authority to send Filipino athletes to the Olympics.
I want to let everyone know that PSI coaches are right now recruiting PSL swimmers by offering them attractive perks.
(To be continued)