They say that in a collegiate league like the UAAP, anything can happen. Changes come about, whether expected or unexpected, victories and losses come and go, and time is never on your side.
For the DLSU Tankers, losing longtime head coach Martin Carandang and multi-titled swimmer Johansen Aguilar brought about changes to the team, starting with the debut of rookie head coach Evan Grabador.
Grabador, who began his coaching duties for the Taft-based swimmers last March, is also the head coach of the respective swimming teams of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) and La Salle Green Hills (LSGH). DLSU saw him suitable for the position left by Carandang to maintain the Lasallian way of shaping swimming talents.
“Gusto natin patibayin yung grassroots ng La Salle. So from elementary, high school, mamimili na lang sila kung NCAA [sa] CSB [or] UAAP [sa] DLSU,” he says.
However, the rookie mentor admitted that it wasn’t easy for him to say yes to the job as his trainings with CSB will coincide with DLSU. Nevertheless, he saw an opportunity to put his two teams in one training which also became an advantage. Grabador explains, “May mga events na malakas yung UAAP. May mga events din na malakas ang NCAA so kahit papaano, maghahatakan sila [pataas].”
The DLSU Tankers’ head coach doesn’t just focus on water-based training as he is open to a scientific approach to swimming. He engages his team in core and gym training and other land exercises to give his wards a wider range of training and conditioning. Grabador shared that the kind of land exercise given to freestyle swimmers is different from what is given to those swimming breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly.
“Kasi every stroke, iba yung muscle target. Medyo scientific na,” he says. However, Grabador emphasized that his coaching system is focused on hard work. “Sa akin lang, kailangan hard work [kasi] aanhin mo yung talented swimmer kung hindi rin nagtetraining,” he notes.
Based on the Tankers’ performance, Grabador observed that they have gradually adapted his system although they are still in the process of transition and adjustment. He just hopes that the team will be fully adjusted come UAAP swimming season.
“Unang-una, kailangan studies [kaya] student-athlete eh hindi naman athlete-student,” stresses Grabador about the main thing that he wants to impart to every member of his team. As the team’s head coach, he wants the Tankers to prioritize their studies first before anything else and at the same time, learn the importance of self-discipline and proper time management.
He explains, “Doon nila makikita kung gaano sila kagaling na atleta.” Grabador wants every member of his team to stay consistent, as every now and then, they have to prove that they are really worthy to become a DLSU Tanker.
Every squad is required to have 20 swimmers in the competition, but Grabador makes his team realize that it’s not all about the ranking, but every swimmer’s purpose to contribute points for the entire team. Grabador is very realistic and says that it will not be an easy campaign for them this year. “Hindi ko naman sinasabing walang chance tayo pero mahirap yung chance natin,” he says.
Lastly, he noted that his team members don’t have to be superstars because all Grabador wants the Tankers to do is to spread their points. “It’s a team effort,” the rookie coach concludes.