University of Santo Tomas’s boys’ and girls’ swimming teams, led by Renz Santos and Patricia Santor respectively, romped past the competition from all fronts, formalizing another rare golden double for the third consecutive season in the UAAP Season 86 High School Swimming Championships on Sunday afternoon at the Teofilo Yldefonso Swimming Pool in Malate, Manila.
This is UST’s ninth overall title in the boys’ division and lucky no. 13 for the girls’.
With the result of the overall team standings already a forgone conclusion, the only feat left to achieve for the Junior Tigersharks was to bring home the individual awards.
But unlike the team standings, this was by no means a cakewalk as the Ateneo duo of Ivo Enot and Lora Amoguis, the reigning Most Valuable Players for the boys’ and girls’ divisions, respectively, sought to defend their titles.
At the start of the final day of action, three competitors were in the running for the MVP award, Enot, Santos, and Marcus De Kam of UST.
In the afternoon’s first event, Enot took care of business by dominating the Boys’ 50m Backstroke in 27.52 seconds, almost a body length away from UST’s tandem of Yohan Cabana and Ryian Zach Belen who tied for second place in 28.14 seconds.
De Kam only managed to finish fourth, thereby being eliminated from the MVP race. Enot, however, had no other events left and could only wait and see how Santos fared in the two events he was lined up to swim for the afternoon – the Boys’ 200m Butterfly and the Boys’ 50m Freestyle.
In the Boys’ 200m Butterfly, Santos finished third in 2:14.16, behind teammates Ivan Radovan (2:11.88) and Hugh Antonio Parto (2:12.72). This put him at 77 points as opposed to Enot’s 88. This meant that he needed to finish at least second in the Boys’ 50m Freestyle which, incidentally, was the season’s final individual race. And so, the stage was set for an epic finish in the MVP race.
Despite De Kam ruling the Boys’ 50m Freestyle in 24.41 seconds, Santos sneaked past teammate Jabrielle Marcos Delizo (24.83) for the silver medal in 24.81 seconds, thereby snatching the season MVP trophy by a mere two one-hundredths of a second.
Over the four days of hostilities, Santos collected three golds, two silvers, and two bronze medals for 89 points, ahead of Enot (88) and De Kam (87).
Asked on how he felt after the win, Santos, who was part of the national team in finswimming that competed in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games, shared: “Siyempre po yung preparation sobrang madugo. As in everyday, two times a day, three times a day yung pinag-ttraining po namin. Ito po talaga yung target ko since Season 85, disappointed ako last year kasi hindi ko nakuha yung ganito.
”Sobrang thankful, sobrang grateful ako sa achievement na ito. Hindi po madale kasi coming into UAAP nagkasakit pa po ako two weeks before tapos one week ko lang nabawi yun. Sobrang saya lang po. Thank you kay God. Thank you sa lahat,” furthered the product of the Navotas sports program.
In other events for the day, Ateneo’s Franz Ong went neck and neck with UST’s Aishel Evangelista in the Boys’ 1500m Freestyle. The endurance event saw Ong (17:30.89) prevail over Evangelista (17:30.90) by one-hundredths of a second for an emotional finish. Radovan was a distant third with his time of 17:57.28.
The rest of the events were ruled by the Junior Tigersharks. Joaquin Mirasol (2:31.50) and Kaden Sy (2:31.91) provided a 1-2 finish for UST in the Boys’ 200m Breaststroke with Ateneo’s Victoriano Tirol IV (2:33.54) finishing third.
Capping off their remarkable campaign, Cabana, Mirasol, Parto, and Jose Emmanuel Austria teamed up in the Boys’ 4x100m Medley Relay to register a new league record in 4:03.68. De La Salle Zobel wound up second in 4:27.66 while Ateneo was third in 4:31.65.
At the conclusion of their season, the boys’ team of the UST Junior Tigersharks tallied a total of 15 golds, 14 silvers, and 13 bronze medals to register 711 points.
Ateneo was the clear runner-up with 327 points as University of the Philippines Integrated School (75) narrowly edged DLSZ (64) for the final podium spot.
UST’s Ishaelle Villa accounted for two of those gold medals as she ruled the sprint events of the day. Villa, who was no longer in contention for the MVP award, played spoiler for Amoguis to help teammate Santor come out on top. Prior to the final day of action, Amoguis and Santor were tied in the individual tally with 69 points apiece and two events left to swim.
Villa topped the Girls’ 50m Backstroke in 31.13 seconds, ahead of Amoguis who touched in at 32.07 seconds. DLSZ tanker Zia Ranjo ended third in 32.15 seconds.
Surprisingly, Santor (2:52.11) duplicated the silver medal finish of Amoguis as she was beaten by her teammate Sealtiel Cherrie Daiz II (2:51.06) in the Girls’ 200m Breaststroke. Thus, the two fierce competitors were still tied in the race for the MVP with one event left to swim for both. Rounding out the podium for UST was Clara Delos Santos (2:52.24).
Santor, a 15-year-old upstart who hails from Antipolo, immediately returned to the pool for the Girls’ 200m Butterfly where she made sure to have the best chance of taking the MVP award as she topped the event in 2:24.12, missing out on the UAAP record by a fraction of a second. Sinagtala Cuevas of UST took the silver in 2:27.65 while Aubrey Tom of UPIS brought home the bronze in 2:31.57.
While Amoguis had a fair chance in the ever-dangerous sprint event of the Girls’ 50m Freestyle to duplicate Santor’s golden finish, Villa had other plans. The Junior Tigershark finished in 28.06 seconds to lead a podium sweep for UST together with Raina Leyran (28.35) and Gerice Oyaman (28.89). Amoguis fell flat, finishing fifth in 29.01 seconds thereby ceding her crown to Santor.
The Junior Tigersharks capped their campaign with a final record-breaking performance in the Girls’ 4x100m Medley Relay.
Swimming in her third event for the afternoon, Villa teamed up with Delos Santos, Cuevas, and Laureen Sealtiel Daiz to shatter the league record by over five seconds as they clocked 4:39.39. DLSZ finished second in 4:52.14 while UPIS was third in 5:31.04.
All in all, the girls’ squad of UST matched the 15 gold medals of the boys’, to go with nine silvers and eight bronze medals for a total of 557 points.
Meanwhile, Ateneo, fielding only senior high school student-athletes, was able to finish in a school-best second-place finish in the team standings with 264 points, in front of UPIS who collected 210 points, and DLSZ with 112 points.