A little over a year since controversially taking the post as the Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSI) president, Ma. Lailani Velasco has made significant strides in bringing a united front for Philippine swimming as it gears up for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games later this year.
After years of disorder and bickering, swimmers of an independent group under the Philippine Swimming League (PSL) banner were finally able to participate in a PSI event over the weekend – the 2019 PSI Grand Prix Long Course NCR Leg 1. For this to be possible, coaches, parents, and swimmers of PSL (registered as Swimming Pinas) had to submit to the authority of the FINA-recognized PSI and its board of trustees headed by Velasco. Velasco further added that:
“This weekend’s swim meet was very special because, for the first time in the history of Philippine swimming, we had both PSI and PSL/Swimming Pinas swimmers competing side by side. We welcomed PSL/Swimming Pinas swimmers and parents with open arms. This momentous weekend was made possible because everyone has committed to accepting and aligning in making our common goal a reality,” she expressed.
“With our dedication to the sport and our spirit of cooperation with the PSI, we have been able to open doors and provide opportunities for growth for our athletes.”
With this significant development, PSL ace swimmers like Micaela Jasmine Mojdeh will finally be able to don the national colors in international competitions such as the SEA Age Group Swimming Championships, SEA Games, Asian Games, FINA World Championships, and even the Olympics.
Earlier this year, Velasco was also able to secure the approval of the world governing body for swimming, Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), in making the 30th SEA Games in Clark an Olympic qualifier.
On other fronts, Velasco is also seeking to revive the programs of the other aquatics disciplines in its watch – diving, water polo, artistic swimming, and open water swimming.
For instance, the women’s water polo team, which last saw action in the 28th SEA Games in Singapore back in 2015, is making a return after disbanding in 2016. Some of the veterans have come out of retirement to boost the gold-medal-bid in the coming SEA Games.
Slowly but sure, Velasco and the rest of the PSI board are bringing Philippine swimming back to its former glory.