POOLED REPORT FROM PSA
NAY PYI TAW — The four-man Philippine swimming team starts its campaign Thursday, looking to pull off a surprise against the heavyweights of the 27th Southeast Asian Games.
London Olympic bidders Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna banner the squad, which will see action in only 15 of the total 32 events that will be played at the Wunna Theikdi swimming pool here.
Newcomer Matt Louis Navata will be the first to dive into battle when he competes in the men’s 400m individual medley while Alkhaldi follows suit in the women’s 100m freestyle.
On Friday, Lacuna’s resolve will be tested in the men’s 100m freestyle while another greenhorn in Joshua Hall wages war in the men’s 100m breaststroke.
“We are fielding a small delegation that is capable of pulling off a surprise,” said swimming coach Pinky Brosas, whose wards came up without a single gold medal in the previous edition of the biennial meet in Palembang, Indonesia.
“The respective records of all competitors are pretty similar. So it will be a very interesting race. It all boils down to their preparation, mental and phyiscal conditioning and hunger to win. Dependa na lang sa gising yan kinabukasan.”
Brosas stressed that Navata is tipped to have a difficult time in the 400m individual medley since he will be stacked against Quah Zheng Wen, a 17-year old tanker who scooped the gold medal in the same event two years ago.
But Navata, who campaigned for the South Carolina Gamecocks in the US NCAA Division I, is ready for the challenge.
“I believe in him. He trained hard and made this tournament his top priority,” Brosas said. “Actually, not just Matt, but all of them are in good condition and ready to win.”