I wish I could write about food today, but after seeing this new short film of Procter & Gamble for the 2012 London Olympics, I couldn’t help but savor a walk down memory lane and relive a number of moments from a good chunk of my life – 12-years to be exact, when my parents and I were going through the same motions as in the film.
If I were to plot the exact moment my parents knew that I was destined to be a swimmer, it would be how effortless it was drown-proofing me at the very tender age of 6-months. Yes, I think I learned how to swim even before I started walking. My papa always shared the story of how I happily ran towards bodies of water – swimming pools and the sea – even if I did not know how to swim yet! It gave my mama heart attacks then. LOL!
But the real work for my parents came in when I convinced them – well, my papa said more like begged them, after a summer of enjoying swim camp, that I wanted to win medals. Straight from the mouth of 5-year old me. And so the competitive swimming career began.
Swimming, unlike other sports in which 2-3x a week of training is enough, required constant training. I was told at that vulnerable age that missing a day of swim training was equivalent to missing 3-days of training. I don’t know how true, but my parents and I were convinced.
So after a full-day, 730AM to 330PM, of school, my parents made customized arrangements with my school bus service or, most of the time, personally shuttled me to grueling 2-hour swim training. Mondays through Fridays including holidays. (Oh, and we also had Saturday morning training too. I say “we” because my sister followed suit after her big sister and joined me in the crazy world of competitive swimming.)
You see, the school and the pool were not necessarily beside each other. Well, it was until my parents decided to follow a preferred coach, who was relocated to train a team based in a country club in Paco, Manila. Hence, it was a daily 1-hour travel by car from school to the pool and another 2-hour travel by car from the pool to our Cainta home. every. single. day. I even remember there were days we were exhausted beyond comprehension, which was often, my parents would literally carry us out of the car and into our beds.
Did I mention that training was TWICE a day during the summer? Oh, there was also a time that we had twice a day training during school days too (I came to class with damp hair, reeking of chlorine). So my parents had to do double time too.
Weekends weren’t spared too. Aside from Saturday morning training, weekends were also competition time, which was at least bi-monthly. My parents were compelled to go. Who else would cheer on us first?
Competitive swimming did not just require swim training. We did cross training. We ran. We lifted weights. We joined aerobics classes (It was the 80’s. What did you expect?). We even played football and badminton just to jazz up things.
Of course, we needed swimming stuff such as bathing suits (of course, what would we wear in the pool?!?), kickboards (training aid held by the arms to strengthen legs), pullbuoys (training aid clipped in between the thighs to strengthen arms), paddles (training aid to strengthen arms and help keep fingers together. LOL), fins (training aid to strengthen legs), vitamin supplements, and more. You get the picture. There were a number of stuff available locally, but in the late 80‘s and early 90‘s when better quality, advanced sports technology imported products were scarce, my parents had to go the extra-mile just to get them for us. Power bars, powdered Gatorade, paper swimsuits (specially designer swimsuits, which created less friction with the water) and more fashionable swimsuits were lovingly bought from the USA through the kindness of Tita (aunt), who was based there, and shipped to the Philippines. Effort kung effort!
And boy, did we travel. How else was I able to taste the Philippines? We were sent off to a number of provinces including Pangasinan, Bacolod, Cebu and General Santos to compete.
Though we weren’t exactly rolling in the dough, my parents found a way – fought through tooth and nail – to support us through this sports endeavor of ours. It wasn’t normal for parents to raise their children this way. We didn’t lead a normal childhood like other kids did. We didn’t get the chance to play in the street often. We didn’t spend our lazy afternoons in front of the television. We didn’t get to spend our summers cooped up in the province. They believed in the power of sports as a means of values formation, even if it meant robbing us of carefree childhoods.
So did all their efforts pay off?
After winning a couple of hundreds of medals, a handful of trophies (I kid you not. My parents even created a shrine to show-off our swimming achievements, which are technically theirs too), newspaper and television features (which I don’t think we have preserved copies of), two national records, one ASEAN age group championship, two Palarong Pambansas (literally National Games, but exclusively for student athletes from different regions), two National Games (an Open category competition of the best athletes from different regions), it would be a resounding YES. On top of that, consider all the values that we gained from 12-years of hard work: discipline, time management (which explains why I am very anal about my time), determination, goal setting, drive for excellence, focus and more.
Dear Papa and Mama, I may have not made it to the Olympics as you may have dreamt this for us, but I cannot thank you enough. All the hard work seemed effortless, but now I know and understand how difficult it was for you.
I love you both!
Delirious about delicious,
P.S. This is not a sponsored post. I was just so moved by the commercial short film that I was compelled to write about my sentiments on it.
P.P.S. I wish I could find more pictures from that past life of mine, but all are back home in the Philippines. These photos were grabbed from some of my swim mates, who shared the photos over Facebook.
P.P.P.S. You can check out another swimming related post of mine here