Google defines tumble turn, also known as a flip turn, as “one of the turns in swimming, used to reverse the direction in which the person is swimming. It is done when the swimmer reaches the wall or the end of the swimming pool but still has one or more lengths to swim.”
Knowing how to do the tumble turn gives the competing swimmer immense advantage over his rivals. That is why this technique is common fare in big tournaments. You are not a swimmer if you can’t do the tumble turn, they say.
It is said that a swimmer can save 1-5 seconds by using the tumble turn over those who don’t. Gosh, that’s akin to eternity especially in the Olympics wherein the difference between gold and silver is sometimes a mere millisecond.
But why name my column as such, you may ask. The answer is quite simple. It is borne out of my frustration because despite being a certified ocean lover, I still can’t…..do the tumble turn!
Those who are close to me know that I have this special bond with the ocean, much like fish to water. But after countless tries and frustrations many summers ago when swimming was still my one true love, I decided to stop trying and just be content watching top swimmers do their flip turns without effort.
But lest I be misunderstood, I would like to stress this early that this column would not be all about swimming. Although I would love to devote a huge part of this endeavor to focus on the sad and distressing state of swimming in this country, I just can’t do that if the intention is to cover as much ground as possible with a once-a-week piece.
So there, I hope I made a comprehensive intro. Now to more serious business.
I had a recent talk with PSC Commissioner Ramon “El Presidente” Fernandez. The good Commissioner sounded upbeat and excited over the phone. I thought it could be due to the smashing success the country enjoyed in the recent Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) which it hosted. The Philippines ran away with the overall championship in the biennial games by a mile, bagging 149 gold medals while the rest of the competition failed to break the century barrier.
I told Mon that winning the overall title was hardly a surprise because as host, the Philippines had the liberty of choosing the calendar of sports to be contested in the two-week sports enclave including but not limited to infusing events that only Filipino athletes are familiar with. Throw in the huge homecourt advantage and the overall crown was but a foregone conclusion.
But Mon was quick to correct me. He said that even if we limited the contest to purely Olympics sports, meaning events which are duly recognized by the Olympic movement like swimming, boxing, archery, and the likes, we would still emerge overall champion with 81 gold medals. The second placer he added, would have won around 70 golds.
He said early preparations and the exposure of our athletes to top international tournaments spelled the difference between failure and success. He also revealed that this early, the PSC is already preparing for the 2023 Games in Vietnam. That is aside from sending some of our promising athletes to the remaining Olympic qualifying tournaments around the world in the hope of adding more warm Filipino bodies to the Tokyo Summer Games this July.
Mon, however, said the PSC is setting a modest target for the 2023 SEA Games in Vietnam. To finish within the top 3 would be enough reason to celebrate.
So far, only three Filipinos have punched their tickets to the Tokyo Games including gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxer Neshty Petacio, and pole vaulter EJ Obiena. All three also contributed gold medals to the country’s cause in the recent SEAG.
But if the present PSC leadership under Chairman Butch Ramirez stays committed to its current formula of early preparations and sending our athletes abroad for much needed international exposure because as Mon puts it, an athlete is only as good as the competition, then I see no reason why the Philippines cannot dominate future SEA Games and finally win its first-ever Olympic gold medal.
Wishful thinking? yes, but possible.
Perhaps lost in the frenzied celebrations following the country’s coronation as 2019 SEA Games overall king, was the equally noteworthy achievement of Cebu’s premier eye doctor, Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III. Last December, in the cold and barren Antarctica, Yong silently toiled through 42 kilometers of running under sub-zero temperatures and completed the Arctic Run in more than six hours.
We, ordinary mortals, would surely not complete even a quarter of the race but Yong is no ordinary mortal. His feat though left largely uncelebrated, put the running doctor in a pedestal all to his own by becoming the first Filipino marathoner to run seven marathons in seven continents in seven days.
That’s passion and dedication personified!
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