PH swimmers resume bids for Olympic qualifying times
The Philippine Swimming, Inc. is upbeat about its athletes’ chances of qualifying to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics rescheduled next year despite their altered preparations brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
PSI president Lani Velasco said five of the 11 national swimmers based abroad have been back in the pool after restrictions in their cities were eased.
Only Luke Gebbie has been training in Australia the whole time as he lives near the ocean and has a training pool nearby.
Remedy Rule was back in the pool last May 18 after restrictions were relaxed in Texas, while James Deiparine will resume pool training on June 1 at the University of Southern California.
Those three athletes, along with Jasmine Alkhaldi, have the strongest chances of earning Olympic slots after making the Olympic Qualifying Time B in their events at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila.
But they have to make the faster cut in the OQT A in order to make it to the Games troublefree.
Gebbie is currently at 49.94 seconds in men’s 100-meter freestyle and 22.62sec in 50 free, more than a second slower than the 48.57sec and 22.01sec OQT-A times.
Rule’s 2:10.99 in women’s 200 free also closes in on the 2:08.43 Olympic cut, as well as her 100m record of 55.80sec (54.38sec, OQT-A). Deiparine needs to meet the 59.93sec standard in men’s 100m breaststroke after timing 1:01.46, while Alkhaldi, who competed in the previous two Olympics via the universality rule, is 0.81 seconds off the OQT-A time in women’s 50m free with her time of 25.48sec.
“I’m optimistic of our athletes despite the situation we are now. There will be plenty of time to qualify,” said Velasco, adding that more qualifiers are rescheduled once quarantine eases in other countries. Swimmers have until one month before the Games to make the OQT-A grade.
Countries are also given one slot per gender via universality rule if no one qualifies. Meanwhile, proper authorizing bodies has yet to finalize protocols on how to resume training following the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) resolution allowing outdoor activities that included swimming. Preventive measures are tricky for the sport since local clubs and venues are still closed at the moment including the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and Philsports Complex, which are currently serving as temporary medical facilities.