“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”
Two straight seasons of failing to grab the UAAP Swimming championship motivates the DLSU Tankers even more to fare better in this year’s tournament. After last season’s runner-up finish by the Green Tankers and a third place campaign by the Lady Tankers, the Taft-based swimmers aim for nothing less than a championship in this new season.
Amidst the changes in the team’s lineup and coaching staff, the Tankers aremore than willing and ready to compete in the latest edition of the annual collegiate sporting event.
Key losses and additions
The departure of three-time MVP and former Rookie of the Year Johansen Aguilar after completing his five-year collegiate career left the team with a big crater to fill. Current co-captains KitoZialcita and RaissaTeano of the Green Tankers and Lady Tankers, respectively, noted that it was indeed a big loss for them, with Aguilar being such a decorated swimmer.
“But then siyempre may pumasok din sa amin na malalakas,” comments Zialcitaon the key additions to the men’s and women’s squads. The teams are hoping that the likes of rookies Red Silvestre and AngelieJalauig, among others,will play a major role in their quest for title contention.
Aside from the departure and addition of players, there is also a striking change in the Tankers’ coaching staff. With long-time swimming mentor Martin Carandangbeing replaced by rookie coach Evan Grabador, the Tankers are faced with a new system as implemented by the new coaching style.
“Siguro yung biggest change is that everyone is having a hard time to cope kasibagoyung coachnamin,” adds Teano.
However, the veteran co-captains stressed that Grabador encourages the Tankers to seethe changes in their system as an advantage, rather than as a challenge that they need to surpass.
In preparation for the UAAP 77, the teams began its rigorous training procedures as early as summer, with the incoming rookies already joining the training schedules.
“We train from 5:00 am to 7:30 am every day, sometimes including Saturdays,” says Teano.
Their training is not limited to just water-based activities, as it also includes various conditioning exercises provided for by the University. Beyond swimming, the teams try to incorporate other sports in their privileged conditioning program.
Eyes on the prize
Breaking their streak of runner-up finishes is the Green-and-White squad’s primary objective this season. This, though, does not take away the team’s other goals such as uniting the team under one vision, fostering camaraderie among its members, and instilling mental toughness in every single one of them.
“Even if it was an individual sport, lagingnandiyan pa rinyung teamwork dahil no man is an island ‘di ba? Siyempreyung training, yes, you train by yourself kasi[swimming is an] individual sport but then your teammates are still there to push you,” explains Zialcita as to what the Tankers are trying to envision among its athletes.
With reigning men’s and women’s swimming champions University of the Philippines and archrival Ateneo De Manila University bagging top recruits across the nation, the journey to a first place finish gets a lot more difficult for the DLSU Tankers. But then again, with adequate preparation, camaraderie, and motivation present in the helm of the Lasallian swimmers, the Green Tankers and the Lady Tankers are hopeful of finally clinching the elusive title in both the men’s and women’s divisions.