Swimming: Pinoy SEA Games medalists hunt for Olympic berths in Texas meet

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Feb 28 2021 12:33 AM | Updated as of Feb 28 2021 12:34 AM

James Deiparine celebrates winning the gold medal in the 100-m breaststroke swimming event of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Capas town, Tarlac on December 4, 2019. Deiparine is eyeing a berth in this year’s Olympics. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

After activities were sidelined for several months by the COVID-19 pandemic, swimmers Jaimie Deiparine and Remedy Rule will finally resume their Olympic qualifying campaign when they see action at the TYR Pro Swim Series on March 3 to 7 at North East ISD Blossom Athletic Complex in San Antonio, Texas.

“Hopefully this swimming event will be the first Olympic qualifying tournament for Remedy and Jimmy (Deiparine’s nickname) this year,” Philippine swimming federation chief Lani Velasco said Saturday.

“Since the competition is an Olympic qualifying event, swimming meet organizers are pretty strict about allowing foreigners to participate. So we practically pleaded with them to enable our swimmers to compete in San Antonio.”. 

Deipairine, who won a gold and silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games at the New Clark City Aquatic Stadium in Capas town, Tarlac, is gunning for an Olympic slot in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke event. 

The former California Polytechnic State varsity swimming ace set a SEA Games and national record of 1 minute and .01.46 seconds securing his first gold medal in the regional sportsfest, short of the Olympic qualifying standard of 59.93 seconds.

Velasco said Deiparine was training under former US Olympic coach David Salo, who once handled Australian Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe, “and he has been doing pretty well with coach David.”

A former member of the University of Texas Longhorns women’s swimming squad, Rule, who bagged a pair of silvers and bronzes at the 30th SEA Games two years ago, continues to train with her former coaches at the school, according to Velasco.

Rule is seeking to make the Olympic grade in both the women’s 100 and 200-meter women’s butterfly races.

She booked new national marks of 1:00.16 and 2:09.58, respectively, in March 2020 at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Des Moines, Iowa, with the latter time short of the qualifying mark 2:08.43, and within the Olympic B cut of 2:12.28.

Rule, however, swam a strong butterfly leg in clocking 57.99 seconds for the DC Trident squad that placed third in the preliminaries of the International Swimming League meet held in Budapest, Hungary last October.

Since the competition is not recognized by the International Swimming Federation, the world governing body known more by its French acronym FINA, her time was not considered a national mark.

But worth noting is the fact that her clocking is just .07 seconds off the Olympic cut of 57.92 seconds. 

Velasco said the country’s other Olympic swimming hopeful and freestyle specialist, Luke Gebbie, was also gearing up for his Olympic qualifying competitions while training in Australia.

Born in New Zealand, Gebbie, 24, set a new national mark of 22.62 seconds in salvaging a bronze medal in the men’s 50-meter freestyle of the 30th SEA Games, an eye blink from the Olympic cut of 22.01 seconds.

Velasco thanked the Philippine Sports Commission for its continued support of the country’s Olympic swimming hopefuls, her federation is “fervently praying that these three swimmers can make the grade to the Tokyo Olympic Games.”

Veterans Jessie Khing Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi secured their second straight Olympic appearances in the Rio Olympiad 5 years ago after being awarded universality or “wild card” slots.