MANILA, Philippines – Star swimmer Johan Aguilar from De La Salle University wants to prove that it is possible to be an outstanding student while at the same time excelling in your chosen sport.
Aguilar, a former UAAP Athlete of the Year and a three-time UAAP swimming MVP, graduated magna cum laude recently, with a double major in economics and applied corporate management, while also earning a gold medal for best thesis.
"It was an easy journey," Aguilar admitted. "Five long years of college life, and I think I was just really blessed. At the same time, it took hard work and determination."
Aguilar said the key for him was that he truly enjoyed his sport and did not consider it a burden or a job.
"If you're really into what you're doing, then I think you won’t really feel as though you're working," he explained. "You won't get tired because you’re enjoying what you do."
The swimmer believes that his achievements both in sport and school show that it is possible for student-athletes to truly excel in both fields and buck the stereotype.
"I think, 'yun 'yung gusto kona iparating. I think that's what I stand for, that you’re not limited," said Aguilar. "Porke't athlete ka, 'yun na lang, wala ka ng ibang gagawin? As a student-athlete, you always have to remember na student first, and then athlete."
"But at the end of the day, you can merge that gap," he added. "For me, masakit sa akin na may stereotype ang mga athletes, na hindi masyadong nagpe-perform sa class, nagka-cut."
Aguilar said athletes should have the right mindset and the willingness to make sacrifices if they want to find the same success that he did, both in sports and academics.
Aguilar's specialty is the backstroke, and he holds the Philippine record in the 50-m backstroke. Now that his UAAP career is over, Aguilar is hoping to qualify for the Asian Games as he believes it is a great honor for him to represent the Philippines.
"It's obviously an honor to represent the country abroad, lalo na ang kalaban mo ay international (swimmers)," he said. "I think it's more pressure for me to compete abroad, but at the same time, it's more fulfilling."
Aguilar is also planning on starting his own business. -- From a report by Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News