Artistic swimming aims to gain Filipino sports fans' attention

Artistic swimming aims to gain Filipino sports fans' attention
Philippine artistic swimmers Zoe Lim (left) and Antonia Lucia Raffaele

MANILA, Philippines – Compared to traditional swimming event, artistic swimming sounds foreign among Filipino sports fans.

And artistic swimming coach Giella Sanchez aims to spread awareness of the sport here.

She started by pointing out that at least, in her own turf in Bacolod City, the sport is quite popular and doing fine.

Sanchez said that the 11th Asian Age Group Championship (AAGC), which the country is hosting, is a good opportunity to introduce the sports to many Filipinos. Artistic swimming is one of sports in the competition aside water polo, diving and traditional swimming.

“Mahirap po talagang maipakilala ang artistic swimming dahil hindi ito regular na nakikita ng ating mga kababayan,” said Sanchez

“Artistic swimming is an Olympic sport, yes, and very popular sa international sports scene, pero dito sa atin, talagang medyo alien pa," she added.

Artistic swimming is a combination of gymnastics, swimming and dancing, according to Sanchez.

Out to help stir interest in the sport in the ongoing AAGC is 12 and under category (events: Figures and Solo Free Routine — song is Mambo Italiano) participant Zoe Lim. In the youth 13-15 years old (events: Figures and Solo Free Routine — song is New York New York) division is Antonia Lucia Raffaele, who is 13.

"Zoe is from St. John's Institute-Bacolod and Antonia is from St. Scholastica's Academy-Bacolod.  They both started with me, when they were three years old in our learn-to-swim program, WeSwim Aquatics. And they started competing swimming three years later.  Their serious artistic swimming training started when they were 9,” Sanchez explained.

"Antonia has joined the Singapore Invitational Artistic Swimming Championships back in 2019.... And with Zoe, they did several Online / Virtual Artistic Swim competitions during the pandemic (2021 - 2022). They competed in the Australian Artistic Swimming Age Group Championships, South African King Fisher Artistic Swimming Invitational and New Zealand Artistic Swimming Age Group Nationals."

"Artistic swimming started in Bacolod City in 2018, when Coach Reina Suarez did a workshop with us.  Together with my sister (Giselle Tan), we joined the program that Coach Reina started in Bacolod. Our first swimmer is Carmina Tan, who competed in the last Asian Age Group Champs in India in 2019, is now based in California in the US since last year, and is training there for Artistic swimming. She helped us in preparing Zoe and Antonia for AAGC by helping us make their hybrids for the routines, and by updating us with all the new rules for the sport,” said Sanchez.

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