MANILA — The Congress of Philippine Aquatics, Inc. (COPA) welcomed the participation of more underprivileged students from public schools in the 3rd leg Reunion Swim Challenge slated October 22-23 at the Olympic-sized Teofilo Ildefonso swimming pool inside Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) in Malate, Manila.
Tournament director Chito Rivera said the number of participants would definitely double from the previous legs as many more affiliated swimming clubs, public schools and community organizations have sent entries for the final leg of the three-series meet in partnership with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Speedo and MILO.
“From 300 in previous leg, this weekend aabot tayo sa 400 plus sa dami ng nagpapalistang estudyante mula sa public schools. This is the offshoot of COPA’s program to tap the local government units and partnership with the Department of Education for the inclusion of public-school students in the mainstream swimming community,” said Rivera, also the head coach of the Jose Rizal University varsity team.
COPA co-founder and Batangas 1st District Congressman Eric Buhain said he is happy with the way things are happening in the grassroots swimming community as the opportunity to excel is no longer confined to athletes belonging to certain clubs and associations.
“There’s no exclusivity in swimming or on any other sports. Kailangan nating buksan ang pintuan ng oportunidad para sa lahat. Mas marami tayong madevelop na talent, mas makabubuti sa ating bansa We have to give chance to those who are not part of the organizations, clubs or associations,” said the multi-titled Philippine Sports Hall-of-Famer.
COPA’s free participation program for underprivileged students started last month during the Novice Swim Championship.
“Tuloy-tuloy ito. Naka-ready na rin yung programa namin na ‘Train the Trainers’ para sa ating mga teachers. For this, masisigurado natin sa PE pa lang, well train na ang mga teachers natin na magiging coach din,” added Buhain.
Buhain also extended his gratitude to PSC Chairman Noli Eala for the support and for allowing the entry of participants, parents, and guidance to the RSMC without undergoing antigen testing.
“Mas maraming batang swimmers ang nakikilahok dahil sa desisyon ni PSC Chairman Noli Eala na i-relax yung regulation sa anti-gen. All-out support ating PSC Chairman kaya nagpapasalamat tayo,” added Buhain.
The remaining three grassroots sports event of COPA this year is scheduled at the RMSC.
Meantime, all eyes are on Nicola Queen Diamante, Andreana Isabel Mirandilla, Lance Jacob Bautista, and Ivoh Gantala who are all shoo-in to make it to the Reunion Championship next month after emerging ‘most prolific swimmers’ in previous meets.
Diamante, a member of the RSS Dolphines Swim Team, already amassed 10 gold medals in COPA’s recent two tourneys, winning four in 2nd leg of Reunion in Class A 100-m butterfly (1:21.30); 100-m backstroke (1:24.70); 100-m freestyle (1:11.00) and the 200-m back (3:04.90).
In the Novice Championship last month, the 11-year-old shone in the girl’s class A 25-meter freestyle (14.30), butterfly (14.80), backstroke (16.30), breaststroke (21.40), 50-meter freestyle (30.40), and 100-m Individual medley (1:29.40).
Mirandilla, the pride of Sta, Rosa Laguna Swim team, captured the gold medals in the girls 9-years old 50-meter backstroke (Class B) in time of 53.50 seconds; 100-m backstroke (Class C) at 2:07.60 and 100-m freestyle (Class C), while Jacob and Gantala are a force to be reckoned with in the boys’ division. (ai/mtvn)