After three years of the pandemic, San Beda University defended its crowns for the men’s and women’s divisions in the NCAA Season 98 Seniors Swimming Competition, Saturday at the Teofilo Yldefonso Swimming Pool in Malate, Manila.
The Red Sea Lions won their 19th straight win this season. Meanwhile, the Lady Red Sea Lions racked their ninth straight tiara.
“Nung una, yan talaga ‘yung malaking question na nasa isip ko is kung pa’no ‘yung transition,” head coach Dondon Roxas admitted, since most of the seniors of his team had graduated in the pandemic.
“Pero I’m very much happy ‘yung 90-percent team ko na rookies nag-response sila. At the same time, nagawa nila ‘yung part nila, kaya ito na-defend namin ‘yung crown,” he added.
Fritz Rodriguez was one of the main protagonists who paced the men’s team to defend their crown. This season, he was awarded the Most Bemedalled Swimmer, Record Breaker, and Most Oustanding Swimmer plums.
“Thoughts ko sa awards ko is na-overwhelm ako. Kasi dati pina-pangarap ko lang, ngayon nasa kamay ko na, and na-achieve ko, which is great feat para sa swimming career ko,” gushed the 21-year-old native of Samal, Davao.
Moreover, Rodriguez also broke the 100-meter Breaststroke record with a time of 1:07.06, surpassing his old record by just a .21 millisecond margin (1:07.27). He set that previous record in 2019 season 95.
“Satisfied ako kasi na-break ko ‘yung old record ko, which is na-retain ko ‘yung pagiging champion sa 100-meter Breaststroke,” he continued.
At the same time, for the women’s, Amber Cawaling took over the Most Bemeddaled and Most Outstanding Swimmer plums. She bagged three gold medals on the last day with events 800-meter Freestyle (10:03.41), 50-meter Free (29.12), and 4×100 Medley Relay (4:47.32).
“Grabe rin din ‘yung preparation namin para this season. Siyempre nung umpisa talaga, kabado kami kasi ayun nga, two years talagang nag-stop ‘yung training,” shared the 5-foot-1 swimmer from San Fernando, La Union.
“So ‘di kami sure if ma-dedefend namin. And then siyempre, sobrang mabigat din ‘yung pressure kasi ayun nga, may dine-defend kaming championship.”
Besides Rodriguez and Cawaling, Lucio Cuyong II also gained the Record Breaker Award for his tremendous swim in the 200-meter Breaststroke on the first day of the competition.
“Sa totoo lang, parang ‘di pa nag-set in na talagang record breaker ako eh. Kasi nung linangoy ko ‘yung 200 Breast[stroke] na ‘yun, ‘di ko isipin na masisira ko ‘yung record; inisip ko na dapat maunahan ko si kuya Jun [Fritz Rodriguez]. Kaya ayun, iniisip ko nung lumalangoy ng [Breaststroke],” said the 18-year-old Cuyong, who hails from Aklan.
San Beda beefed up their points on the last day.
The men had a total of 1,496 points as they concluded the 4×50 Free Relay (1:39.99) with swimmers Josh Baquiano, Rodriguez, Rb Tierra, and Lean Dagum.
On the other hand, the Lady Red Sea Lions finished with a total of 1,573.5 points as they also finished at the top of the 4×50 Free relay (1:55.86) with swimmers Mary Ann Velasco, Lauren Brillantes, Justine Ciudadano, and Trixia Paloma.
For the Men’s ranking, College of Saint Benilde finished in second with a total of 501 point. Colegio de San Juan de Letran ended in third place with 290 points.
Meanwhile, for the women’s, CSB was also in second place with 571 points while EAC finished in third with 325.5 points.