MANILA, Philippines -- Jessie Khing Lacuna has been swimming for as long as he can remember.
|Jessie Khing Lacuna (center) with fellow Olympians Mark Barriga (left) and Rene Herrera.
At three months old, he began paddling with the help of a pair of inflatable armbands and the guidance of his parents.
“Kasi ang bahay namin nasa loob ng resort,” explained the Filipino tanker. “My brothers are also swimmers, kaya in-encourage nila ako.”
Six years later, he started joining competitions as he tested his mettle against boys within his age group.
His zeal and passion for the sport he grew up with never wavered.
On his way up, he won honor and prestige in various competitions, including six gold medals at the 2nd Philippine Nationals Games.
Today, he is the fastest Filipino swimmer and the youngest among the 11 Philippine Olympians competing in London.
Lacuna said he was pleasantly suprised to learn that he was among the chosen few who will represent the country in the 2012 Olympics Games.
“Na-shock ako nung malaman kong kasali ako,” he said beaming. “Medyo pressured din kasi ito na ang pinakamalaking sports event.”
The 18-year-old Bulacan native is considered as the heir apparent of Filipino swimming champion Miguel Molina, the Most Valuable Player at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games.
In the 2010 Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships, Lacuna shattered the 200-meter freestyle record by clocking 1 minute and 50.90 seconds. The previous record established by Molina in the 2007 SEA Games was 1 minute and 51.75 seconds.
Lacuna admitted that the Olympics is a whole new game as he goes up against tankers from powerhouse countries like the US.
“Of course hindi naman talaga mawawala ang US dahil sila ang top. US, China, Japan, Australia -- sila ang malalakas sa swimming,” he said.
What he can promise though is the amount of effort he is pouring into his preparations.
Lacuna said swimming is about technique and conditioning.
“’Yung technique po ang pinakaimportante,” he said. “Syempre ‘di lang po water workout ang meron kami, meron din po kaming mga dryland exercises and weights.”
Whatever happens, he said he will surely enjoy competing in a sport that he knew for the longest time.
“I’m happy and excited,” he said.