Filipino swimmers rent Clark bubble installation at New Clark City sports facility
Filipino swimmers praised the successful organization of the Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI) Swimming National Selection (SNS) Meet bubble in New Clark City and Clark Freeport Zone, thanking organizers for allowing them to resume competition safely after more than a year of pandemic.
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), in partnership with Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and PSI, hosted a total of 71 swimmers at the SNS Meet from October 22-24 at the New Clark City Aquatics Center in Capas, Tarlac. Bubble participants were accommodated at the Stotsenberg Hotel in the Clark Freeport area, Pampanga.
It was the first competition held at the New Clark City Aquatics Center since the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019, a few months before the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) ravaged the country. It was also the first local swimming competition hosted by PSI since the 2019 Philippine National Open, also at the same facility.
Many participating swimmers expressed their joy at being able to participate in a local competition despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
âHosting a competition during a global pandemic is extremely difficult, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be able to compete during this time,â said Chloe Daos.
Ianiko Limfilipino, for her part, said the competition could remind her again “what it’s like to compete”.
âI surely missed the momentum of the competition. I’m also happy to see so many familiar faces from coaches, swimmers and officials, âhe said.
Thanya dela Cruz, who smashed the national record in the women’s 50 breaststroke at the Aquatic Center, said: âHaving this competition through a bubble is the best setup because we have the confidence to isolate ourselves to avoid getting infected. As for setting a new record, she said: â[Iâm] always at a loss for words. Coming here I really wasn’t expecting anything. I feel like I still need to process it for myself, to really feel like I own it. “
PSI bubble attendees also praised the New Clark City Aquatics Center for its world-class swimming pools and facilities that have been kept in pristine condition even with the sporting activity slowing down.
âThis is by far the best aquatic facility we have here in the Philippines. In my opinion, the New Clark City Aquatics Center is up to world class standards, and it’s always a wonderful experience to compete there, âsaid Xiandi Chua. The All-Star Swim Club star swept all three of her events at the PSI competition.
âIt (the aquatic center) looks amazing and clean even though no one has been able to use it for over a year,â added Miguel Barreto.
New standard in swimming
Despite the changes in sporting events due to the bubble format, SNS participants recognized the need for strict health and safety provisions as part of the new normal.
Joy Rodgers, who previously held the women’s 50 breaststroke record, congratulated the organizers of the PSI meet for keeping all athletes, coaches and technical staff safe.
“I really appreciate the efforts of official bodies to implement safety protocols to the best of their ability to make this competition as safe as possible for everyone, from the weeks leading up to the event until now,” said Rodgers said during the bubble.
She added, âIt’s definitely a new and different experience that we all would need to get used to, and of course there will always be room for improvement. Seeing how well the event is going, now that I am here experiencing it all, I regain hope and look forward to the following events to come.
Rodgers expressed hope that this event would encourage athletes and coaches to focus more on their training, which would lead to better swimming performance in 2022.
Local swimmers joined the PSI event in a bid to qualify for the 15th International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Swimming Championships 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in December, and the 19th FINA World Championships 2022 to be held in Fukuoka, Japan in May next year.
In a Facebook post, PSI President Lani Velasco thanked the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for supporting the swim bubble and allowing base swimmers to return to the pool. She also congratulated the PSI volunteers who worked hard to prepare for the event.
âI am also grateful to our partners and sponsors – BCDA, IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and CDC for all the help and trust they have placed in us. Special thanks to all the BCDA members who supported us from start to finish, âsaid Velasco.
Velasco added: âI know how disappointing and sad it must be for those who cannot participate in this event. But you have my word that this will not be the last of the PSI events. Even with the uncertain future ahead, I will make sure that there will be more opportunities for all of our swimmers to shine in future events.
Lawyer Aristotle B. Batuhan, officer in charge of the BCDA, congratulated the PSI on the successful swimming competition and the athletes for giving the best of their abilities despite the challenges of training and competing in the midst of the pandemic.
âThe resilience of our Filipino athletes was exposed to the PSI National Swimming Team bubble. I have no doubts that we can forge our way towards recovery and give way to the resurgence of the Philippine sports scene. Rest assured, BCDA will continue to support the sports sector to pave the way for more events like this, âBatuhan said.
BCDA, in partnership with CDC, already has growing experience in hosting sports bubbles with the completion of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup last year, the FIBA ââAsia Cup Qualifiers in June and the PhilCycling National Trials for Road, all in the Clark Free Zone in Pampanga. The two agencies also managed the pre-Olympic training camp for Israel’s national swim team last August at the New Clark City Aquatic Center. (RP)