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Swimmer’s farewell
SPORTING CHANCE BY Joaquin M. Henson - May 25, 2005 - 12:00am
After 15 years of dedicated labor, Sydney Olympian and Philippine swimming record-holder Juan Carlo Piccio is retiring from active competition.

Carlo, 23, informed Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA) president Mark Joseph of his decision in a letter dated last May 10.

"Swimming has been my life for 15 years now and I have gone through four Southeast (SEA) Asian Games, two Asian Games, one World Championships and one Olympics," he said.

"Swimming taught me the value of hard work and discipline. It inculcated in me patience and perseverance. It prepared me for a life of decisions and competitions. I love swimming more than what the sports has taught me. But there comes a time in a swimmer’s life where he needs to hang his suit. I think the time has come. I am announcing my retirement from a sport that has been my life.

"Now that I am about to embark on a new career path, I cannot let this opportunity pass without thanking you all–to PASA and all PASA presidents whom I have swum for, to the entire swimming community, a million thanks.

"You were with me all the way. Your unwavering support was immeasurable. Without you all, I wouldn’t be where I am now. You pushed me to become the best swimmer and the best person I can ever be."

Carlo’s decision didn’t come easy. The thought of ending his career with a bang at the SEA Games here late this year was a tempting proposition.

But Carlo felt it was time to say goodbye.

He’s graduating with a degree in International Marketing at the University of Cincinnati next month and there’s been little time for swimming lately because of his studies. Besides, the Cincinnati campus pool is under renovation and finding a training facility for his exclusive use close to the dormitory is an elusive dream.

Carlo’s father Ernesto said life’s other priorities now preoccupy his son’s mind.

"Carlo is applying for work in Los Angeles," said Ernesto. "He’s allowed to work for a year in the US after graduating in a program called OPT or overseas practical training. Carlo is looking forward to applying what he learned at Cincinnati. This will be good experience for him. After a year, he’ll come back home."

Carlo stopped schooling for a year to prepare for the Sydney Olympics so he’s graduating late. But the sacrifice of training for the Olympics and competing in Sydney was worth it. To qualify as an Olympic swimmer is a feat in itself.

The Piccios live in Bacolod. Ernesto, a sugar planter, and wife Gina own the popular Business Inn, a haven for visitors in the heart of the city. Carlo is the eldest of three children and only son. Patricia, 22, specialized in Organization Communications at the University of Cincinnati and works in Los Angeles. The youngest Mia, 13, is the family’s budding sports superstar.

Mia is an incoming freshman at St. John’s Academy in Bacolod. She plays golf five to six times a week and is on the national juniors team. Her major accomplishment so far was finishing second at the Pepsi Little People tournament in Illinois and the US Kids World Championships in Virginia.

Carlo went to La Salle Bacolod before enrolling at Mission Viejo High school in California where he graduated in 2000.

At the 2002 Busan Asian Games, he was a finalist in the 400-meter individual medley but failed to bag a medal.

In 1999, he clocked 15:57.47 to win the silver medal in the 1500-meter freestyle at the Brunei SEA Games and became the first Filipino to swim the event in less than 16 minutes. The year before, Carlo broke Billy Wilson’s record by posting a time of 16:11.18. Carlo reset the Philippine record once more by timing 15:51.50 at the Sydney Olympics.

In 2001, Carlo collected a silver in the 400-meter individual medley and a bronze in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games. And two years later, in Vietnam, he pocketed a gold in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay and a bronze in the 400-meter individual medley.

Carlo began to make waves in 1995 when he captured seven gold medals at the Philippine National Games (PNG). He won five golds at the PNG two years later. In 1998, Carlo competed in four events at the Palarong Pambansa in Bacolod, picking up four golds and registering four meet records, three of which remain unbroken up to today.

Carlo’s last hurrah came at the Conference USA championships in Houston last March. Swimming for the Cincinnati varsity, he took the gold medals in the 1650-yard freestyle and the 400-yard individual medley. Carlo was unbeaten in the 400-yard individual medley the last three Conference USA seasons. He was the Cincinnati Bearcats’ swimming rookie of the year in 2002.

ASIAN GAMES BACOLOD BILLY WILSON BUSAN ASIAN GAMES CARLO ERNESTO LOS ANGELES SWIMMING SYDNEY OLYMPICS UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI
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