This UAAP Season 85 for Thanya Dela Cruz was all about overcoming her fears.
And the 5-foot-6 prodigy rose above them.
Dela Cruz broke all the national records in the three breaststroke events with the most remarkable event she broke being the 200-meter event.
After all, the 200m was traumatizing for her.
“Well, ‘di ko siya expect actually. Kasi not just physically nag-improve ako, but mentally din. Kasi going back lang, back then, I don’t really want to swim 200 [meter breaststroke] because I was traumatized,” Dela Cruz said as she logged a time of 2:30.42, breaking the previous time of 2:32.04 by Desirae Mangaoang during the 2019 Speedo Sectionals in Indianapolis, USA.
“But then, I overcame it this season — so I’m proud of that.”
Back in the 2019 SEA Games that took in the Philippines, Dela Cruz was one of the swimmers chosen to represent the country, and her only event was the 200-meter Breaststroke.
However, things didn’t go as planned. Midway in the race, Dela Cruz stopped because of an anxiety attack. For two years following that, the Ateneo rookie didn’t swim in that particular event in any competition meet.
“Back then in [the] 2019 SEA Games, here in Manila, that was my only event – the 200 [meter] breaststroke. But then I stopped in the middle of the race because I couldn’t breathe. I had an anxiety attack,” she recalled.
“So ever since then, I didn’t swim 200 [meter] breaststroke, so I was scared. So I just swam it right now.”
Despite bad memory, the 19-year-old Dela Cruz delivered in her rookie year – smashing records one by one, bagging three golds and a bronze medal this season.
She produced historic performances in the UAAP – including the 50-meter Breaststroke women’s with a time of 31.11 seconds then there was the 100-meter with 1:08.64.
Still in her first season with Ateneo de Manila University, Dela Cruz just wanted to get that gold for the team’s points. But she wants to tone down expectations since only time will tell what happens in her next years with the blue and white.
“Well, that time, parang gusto ko talaga ‘yung best ko like, makuha ‘yung gold, to give the points to Ateneo. But then, ‘di ko talaga expect to get that records. So I think it’s a good start for me coming in my rookie year,” shared the Marikina-bred Breaststroker.
“No expectations; I’m just gonna give my best lang throughout my whole stay in Ateneo.”
Regardless of her performance, her first year with the women’s team was also challenging. The Blue Eagles Women’s swim team lost the championship crown first time since Season 82 in 2019 – where they had already conquered a three-peat championship.
Despite their hardships this season, Dela Cruz knows that her team will bounce back next season. And to reach the top, they need to take things step by step.
“Of course, of course [babawi kami]. Well, right now, onti lang po kami. But then, we performed; we give all our best. So, I think everyone have made their part naman. So, I think we’re proud of that,” Dela Cruz reiterated
“I mean just take it one by one – one swim at a time. I may able to control myself naman na more than ever. So I think that’s that my biggest takeaways na natutunan ko from this season.”