Support, exposure urged for Philippine BiFin swimming 

Support, exposure urged for Philippine BiFin swimming 
COPA president Eric Buhain poses with BiFin swimming team led by Southeast Asian Games silver medalist Alexi Cabayaran.

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine sports Hall-of-Famer and Batangas 1st District Rep. Eric Buhain said the success of the national BiFin swimming team in the just concluded 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia proved it deserves full support from both the private and public sectors to further boosts its development program, particularly in the grassroots level.

Competing for the first time in the regional biennial meet, all eight members of the Espinelli Trading-backed national team made it to the finals of their respective events, with Palarong Pambansa swimming champion Alexi Cabayaran winning a silver medal in the 200 women BiFin breaststroke. She clocked 1 minute and 56.49 seconds behind gold medal winner Cambodian Muyni Kaing (1:51.69).

“Raising awareness through regular activities and to encourage all swimming clubs, groups, and organizers to include BiFin in their program of events could be a big help for the sports to grow. Maganda ang future natin sa BiFin and the recent campaign of our team in Cambodia proved that. Kahit maiksi lang ang naging preparation may contribution sila sa delegation,” Buhain, a two-time Olympian and currently president of the Congress of Philippine Aquatics, Inc. (COPA), said in an interview after meeting the Nationals at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) office upon their arrival from Cambodia Monday morning.
“Itong pagkapanalo ni Alexi (Cabayaran) ng silver medal ay malaking bagay sa sports. Hopefully, ma-encourage niya ang iba pa na subukan ang bifin swimming. Like classical, maraming medals at stake dito. Isipin natin sa Cambodia 27 yung events, eh kung nakapaghanda na tayo ng matagal mas marami tayong naipadalang athletes, baka mas maraming medalya tayong naiuwi,” added Buhain.

The 15-year-old Cabayaran, from Silay City, Negros Occidental, is one of hundred young swimmers who participated in the Visayas tryouts organized by COPA last February in Bacolod City. Through a memorandum of agreement with the Fin Swimming Federation, COPA was tasked to conduct a national tryout, and form and train the team for the SEA Games.

“Sinunod ko lang po yung payo ng coach ko sa swimming club namin na mag-try ako sa BiFin. Nasopresa po ako ng mapasama ako sa Team. During training sabi ko sa sarili ko pagbubutihan ko para sa parents ko, maka-bronze lang ako masaya na ako. Kaya nang manalo ako ng silver naiyak po ako sa tuwa, agad ko pong kinausap ang parents ko sa Messenger. Sabi ko para po sa sakripisyo ninyo ito,” said Cabayaran.

Aside from the incoming Grade 11 at the Trinity Christian School, other members of the team are Renz Santos, Janine De La Paz, Raymund Paloma, Raina Leyran, Kristoff David, Ishaelle Villa and Troy Castor.

“Mas gagalingan ko po sa training para sa mga susunod na international tournament maka-medalya ako uli. Sa susunod na SEA Games gold medal po ang tatargetin ko,” added Cabayaran.

Under the Incentive Act Law, Cabayaran is set to receive P150,000 but even before the releases of the cash rewards, she already went home with other perks. She along with her teammates and coaches Ramil Ilustre and Agot Alcantara received an ample amount of cash from Buhain. 

“Konting pabaon lang para pasalubong pag-uwi nila sa Negros,” said Buhain.

SEA Games record breaker Xiandi Chua, the most successful swimmer for Team Philippines with one gold, one silver and two bronze medals, also got a cash reward from Buhain. The 21-year-old is a long-time member of COPA, and her coach Pinky Brosas is currently the COPA’s national training director.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo kay POC president Bambol Tolentino sa kanyang suporta na ayusin ang swimming, gayundin sa Fin swimming association for thrusting COPA to handle bifin swimming. Tuloy-tuloy tayo sa ating programa para palakasin ay payabungin natin ang sports. Mas maraming makasali sa BiFin mas maganda sa sports para mas lumaki ang training pool natin,” said Buhain.

COPA already included BiFin swimming in the program of events in all COPA-sanctioned tournament.

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