Another swimmer retires
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson () - June 16, 2005 - 12:00am
Following in the heels of Carlo Piccio’s retirement, national swimmer Lizza Danila announced the other day she is stepping down to give way for others to pursue their Olympic dream.

Piccio and Danila swam for the Philippines at the 2002 Sydney Olympics.

It appears to be in poor timing that both swimmers are pulling out with the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games just a few months away. They’re both gold medal prospects so their withdrawal will surely hurt.

Piccio is graduating at the University of Cincinnati this month and has chosen to refocus his priorities to a life after swimming. Instead of training for his fifth SEA Games, he is applying for a job in Los Angeles under a program allowing foreigners who are graduates of US schools to work in the country for a year.

Danila was recently chosen to train with the national pool in China but she, too, has readjusted her focus in life. After all, athletes can’t be athletes forever. There comes a time in an athlete’s career when a decision has to be made whether or not to continue living a Spartan lifestyle.

Dedicating herself to the coming SEA Games would’ve delayed her graduation from college by another year.

"I already stopped schooling for two years because of swimming," she said. "I was supported by the Philippine Sports Commission to study and swim at Victoria University in Australia for two years then the funding stopped, forcing me to suspend my studies in recreational management. Now, I’m an irregular student at Perpetual in Biñan and I’ll need another year before I can graduate."

Like Piccio, Danila said she has no regrets sacrificing her prime years as a teenager for the sport she loves.

In a letter to Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA) president Mike Joseph, Danila thanked the organization for giving her the opportunity to bring honor to the Philippines as a national swimmer.

"For the past 17 years, swimming has been my life," she said. "I have a lot of fond memories in my swimming career having represented my region in five Palarong Pambansa competitions but most of all, I will never forget the memories of having represented the country in four Asean age-group championships, four SEA Games, four international invitational meets, the World Championships in Barcelona, two Asian Games and to top it all, the 2000 Olympics.

"Swimming gave me the opportunity to visit a lot of places some people may not even see in their lifetime. I owe a lot to this sport because it taught me the right values, which helped mold me into the kind of athlete I have become. It taught me the value of hard work and how important discipline is in life.

"I always made it a point to give my 100 percent in my training in preparation for swimming competitions. And now, I ask for your understanding if at this time, I shall now devote my 100 percent in pursuit to finish my education which is every person’s aspiration and any parent’s dream for their children. That is why, with a heavy heart, I wish to inform you that I am retiring from swimming.

"I have devoted all of my life to swimming. During those times, my education took a backseat in favor of my training and competition schedule for the national team. At 22, I feel that this is no longer possible. The pressure and need to be able to finish my education is now my priority as I am not getting any younger and career opportunities will not wait for me. I know that swimming will not be forever. As you grow old, your body can only take so much beating and I will have to rely on my education in ensuring a bright future for me and my family.

"I would have wanted to end my swimming career here in our Motherland, to swim one last time for flag and country. To make a beautiful ending to this joyful and fulfilling experience in front of our countrymen. For they have been my inspiration, my source of strength every time I start to feel the pain during the last few meters of my race. They are always in my heart and in my mind every time I compete. I remember the opening and closing parade during the 2000 Olympics when tears of joy flowed from my eyes because it was at that time, I was really proud to carry the national colors and be a Filipino.

"I am very happy and proud to have been part of the national team. I know that not everyone is ever given this opportunity. And if I were to live my life all over again, I would still choose this path which I have chosen for myself and that is to swim for my flag and bring honor to our country."

Danila, who is from San Pablo City, closed out her career by collecting eight golds and emerging the Most Outstanding Swimmer at the Mango Cup in the Alabang Country Club this year.

At the SEA Games in Vietnam two years ago, the backstroke specialist brought home two silvers and a bronze.

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