The De La Salle University swimming team finished UAAP Season 81 last November on a high note. The women’s swimming team (Lady Tankers) won third place, while the men’s swimming team (Green Tankers) came in second.
Among the members in the team is Green Tanker Rochmond Santos, 20, a third year sports studies major.
Santos started swimming lessons when he was around nine years old. He didn’t want to take the lessons, but his mother insisted. She told him that swimming was a “clean sport.”
He eventually fell in love with it.
He wakes up at 5 a.m. daily, starts training at 6 a.m., attends classes at 9 a.m., and trains again 5-8 p.m.
“So far, I’ve managed to balance my responsibilities in sports and studies,” he said. “I keep in mind my priorities. I really make sure that I’m on top of things.”
He’s even able to fit in a social life despite his packed schedule.
Santos says he looks up to the coaches that he’s had through the years. They have been father figures to him.
When preparing for competitions, Santos admits he also goes through mental training. “I used to always get the jitters and anxiety during competitions,” he said. “It was taking a toll on my performance.”
Swimming is a mental sport, he said, and mental training has helped him perform better: “You have to fight your fears. Just tell yourself that you can do it and that you will win.”
He believes, however, that losing is part of the game. “You can’t win all your games,” he noted. Winning all the time takes away the opportunity for learning, he added. “When you lose, you get to see pointers for improvement. You learn from the experience…
“Losing isn’t when you come in last or second; for me, you lose when you don’t give your best. So I don’t leave the competition wishing I could’ve done more.”
Taking a break
Has he pondered quitting?
“This season, I wasn’t satisfied with my training. I was so distracted,” he said. “I had a lot of problems.”
But he managed to keep his head above water: “I just told myself that this is a test of my dedication and love for the sport, that I can still emerge victoriously.”
On the first day of the UAAP swim meet last November, he initially doubted if he’d make it to the finals. To his surprise, he earned a spot in all seven events.
“I got to contribute points for the team, but I also felt so tired,” he said. “My body was almost giving up on me. It came to a point where my heart and mind were the only things that were keeping me going.”
After a stressful season, Santos is taking a break. “I’ve decided to rest first so I can miss the sport—actually, I already miss it,” he said. “But I’m not slacking off. I still run and work out every day. I’m just taking a break from swimming.”
He hopes to make a strong comeback this month.
For self-motivation, Santos said, “I just remind myself of my goals, who I’m doing this for. I’m not just swimming for myself, I’m swimming for my team, for my coaches, for La Salle, and for my family.”
He just wants to make the people around him proud.
Swimming, he said, has taught him “to be patient, hardworking and dedicated. It is such a demanding sport, you miss training once and it feels like you’re out of sync right away.”
Swimming has also taught him not to give up easily. In the water, “the black line is all you see, so it’s really all up to you.” —CONTRIBUTED
Photography Josh Tolentino
Styling Luis Carlo San Juan and Luis Mendoza
Grooming and Hairstyle Eddie Mar Cabiltes
Shot on location Bunk 5021, 5021 P. Burgos Street, Poblacion, Makati City