4 swimmers in contention for Olympics

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 3, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Swimming Inc. president Lani Velasco called it an unprecedented feat for the country to list four tankers brandishing Olympic Selection Time (OST) B credentials, each within range of registering Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT) A levels to automatically claim a ticket to the coming Tokyo Summer Games.

“Never done before,” said Velasco. “It’s an amazing accomplishment for four swimmers to make the OST-B cut. We’ve never brought a swimmer to the Olympics with an OQT-A cut but we might be able to do it for the first time this year. All four swimmers have until June 27 to participate and compete in several OQT events. This is in order for them to get the A time or better their B time and increase their FINA (Federation Internationale de Natation) points.”

Velasco said she’s confident that even if none of the four swimmers notches OQT-A times, the Philippines will be allocated two Olympic slots, one male and one female, under the Universality rule. There are 878 tickets allocated for Universality swimmers. In Tokyo, swimming will feature 35 events broken down into 17 for men, 17 for women and one mixed. The limits for each country are 26 men and 26 women with two per event and one relay team. In the previous two Olympics, the Philippines was represented by Jessie Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi. “Our Universality slots aren’t guaranteed,” said Velasco. “It will depend on FINA. We’ve always been given slots in the past so I’m hoping if we don’t make the A-cut, we’ll still get two.”

The four swimmers in contention are Luke Gebbie, 24, Remedy Rule, 24, Jimmy Deiparine, 28 and Alkhaldi, 27. Gebbie has broken OST-B times in 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle and is the first Filipino to clock below 50 in 100-meter freestyle (49.94). The OST-B cut for 100-meter men’s freestyle is 50.03 and the OQT-A cut is 48.57. Rule has gone under OST-B times in 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly while Alkhaldi has clocked below OST-B standards in 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle. Deiparine cracked the OST-B time of 1:01.73 with a clocking of 1:01.46 to bag the gold medal in 100-meter breaststroke at the 2019 SEA Games. The OQT-A cut for 100-meter men’s breaststroke is 59.93. The four contenders own a combined total of 19 Philippine records.

Of the four swimmers, only Alkhaldi is in the country. She’s aiming for a third straight Olympic appearance. “It’s been difficult for Jasmine to train because of our lockdowns,” said Velasco. “We’re trying to arrange for her to compete in Spain. She’s a hard-working kid, very determined and with coach Archie (Lim), we’re hopeful she makes it back to the Olympics. Luke is training, competing and podiuming in Australia. He’s close to the OQT-A cut. Jimmy lives in Seattle and trains in Los Angeles. We’re lining him up for a competition in the Bahamas. Remedy and Jimmy just competed in the TYR Pro Series in Mission Viejo, California.” Velasco said in 2019, PSI had 57 junior swimmers in the 12-18 age group winning competitions in Southeast Asia but training screeched to a halt because of the pandemic. “We’re meeting soon with the IATF and PSC to assess the situation and determine how we can resume training,” she said. “We continue to do zoom meetings with FINA technical officials but up to when? We’ll need to start training for the next SEA Games.”

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