EXHIBITION matches in water polo, fin swimming and mystery relays highlight the activity and program in the 1st Congress of Philippine Aquatics Inc. – Samahang Manlalangoy sa Pilipinas Christmas Friendship Swimfest on Saturday (Dec. 10) at the Teofilo Yldefonso Swim Pool inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Malate, Manila.
Members of the national training pool in water polo and fin swimming will play in a friendly game during a break from the final tournament this year.
COPA is under the leadership of Olympian and elected Batangas 1st District Rep. Eric Buhain.
SMP president and COPA board member Chito Rivera said that the event is made possible by the collaboration of the two swimming groups in an effort to further enhance the talents and skills of the Filipino swimmers in the grassroots level.
“Next year, expect more and a bigger tournament as we launch our nationwide grassroots program,” said Rivera, who is also the varsity coach of the Jose Rizal College in NCAA.
Rivera said that Rep. Buhain broached the idea to include water polo and fin swimming in the event’s program to help re-introduce the two aquatics sports to the young generation, as both have been neglected for years.
“During our meeting, napag-usapan namin na wala na yatang nakakakila sa water polo at fin swimming dahil hindi masyadong nabigyan ng ayuda the past years. Ang totoo niyan itong dalawang sports puwedeng maging alternative sports ng ating mga swimmers after their career,” said Rivera.
“Kailangan lang mabigyan ito ng pansin at ito ang aming misyon kaya ipapanood natin sa mga bata ang laro para maintindihan nila at magustuhan din nila,” added Rivera.
The mystery relay is similar with the traditional relay, but with a twist.
“Dito, ‘yung magkakalabang teams puwedeng gamitin na panimula ‘yung gusto nilang strokes. Halimbawa sa lane 1, freestyle ang first swimmer, sa lane 2 ‘yung kalaban niya breaststroke muna,” added Rivera.
At the event proper, all eyes are expected to be on Nicola Diamante, who dominated her age class in every COPA tournament this year. The 11-year-old Grade 5 honor student of Augustinian Abbey School in Las Pinas already amassed 20 gold medals.
Rivera added that COPA is continuing its support to underprivileged public school students and children with special needs by waving the entry fee.