Behind every success story, there is always a point of origin. This then encapsulates the journey which one takes to achieve it. DLSU Green Tanker Fahad Alkhaldi (III, BS-AEI) shared his personal thoughts and experiences throughout his swimming career.
Starting at the age of five, Alkhaldi already developed an interest for the sport with his older sister Jasmine, who has already competed in events such as the Olympics. Inspired with her strong influence to pursue her career, she encouraged the third year student to keep going, especially when things got tough. “She has always been someone I look up to because she worked so hard. She has achieved a lot of things, so I think she’s a good sister and one of my role models.” said Alkhaldi.
A great deal of his improvement as a swimmer came from his previous high school where he graduated from, TRACE College located in Los Baños. According to Alkhaldi, the school is one where a lot of national team athletes go to because they offer programs that focus on truly progressing their skills as athletes.
The economics student shared that being in DLSU was no mistake. He knew what he wanted and soon after, he contacted the head coach of the swimming team. Though he encountered a few obstacles before officially becoming a Lasallian, with the guidance of the coaches, he was thankful that he was able to carry out this opportunity to be able to represent the school as a Green Tanker.
State of mind
The swimmer looks up to a lot of athletes, however, the first name that comes to his mind is Sun Yang, a Chinese olympian and world-record-holding competitive swimmer. Similar to Fahad, the Chinese swimmer specializes in long distance swims. As Alkhaldi’s main stroke is freestyle, his favorite event is the 400-meter version. He stated, “Throughout my career, that has been my best performing event.”
“I’ve always been a fan of his and he’s someone that I look up to because I actually competed against him,” said Alkhaldi. With that, he was referring to a time when they were both on the same heat at the Asian Swimming Championships back in 2012. The Green Tanker shared, “After the race, he was so gracious even though he won, he just seemed really humble, that’s why aside from his swimming ability, I also look up to his attitude.”
When competing, when the intensity is high, Alkhaldi likes to be in a state of complete concentration. “I just zero in on the race itself but when it’s a little more relaxed, I usually sing songs.” Alkhaldi sings pop music or the last song he heard; he believes this process helps especially when the pressure of the race is really palpable.
The green blooded journey
Before earning his spot in the UAAP Season 80 lineup, Alkhaldi had to complete residency for one year since he was a transferee student. Watching from the sidelines last UAAP 79, he certainly secured his place the following season, giving an outstanding performance for his team.
As Alkhaldi ensured gold and silver medals earlier in his individual events, he was ecstatic with his triumph as it built momentum for the rest of the competition. The tanker was also able to contribute medals in his team events, sharing that swimming in those divisions made it worthwhile for him because of the relationship he shared with his teammates.
“That was one of the highlights for my UAAP year. We’ve been talking about swimming that race when I first got here because we knew we had a shot of winning. So for that to happen was really good. For Sage (Yabut), that was his last year, so I’m glad we shared a gold medal together.”
Having competed in several events during the season, he swam alongside ADMU olympian Jessie Lacuna, multiple times. He mentioned that he used to train and compete with him since they were from the same high school. “Before he became an olympian, I already knew him, so it was like seeing an old friend.”
Though Alkhaldi finished with a silver in the 200m and 400m freestyle events, he was thrilled with the results, considering that those events are the forte of the olympian. Thinking positively and just playing his game, he gave notable swims until the end. “We were swimming at the same speed for the first three laps, so to be able to be at the same speed as him for that long, for me, that’s already an accomplishment.”
As a new addition to the DLSU Swimming team, the Green and Lady Tankers have been nothing but family for Alkhaldi. He explained that there was a time that he was not swimming well due to his weight gain. “The whole team helped me out. I just kept trying to lose the weight and get back in shape and they were really encouraging me.” explained Alkhaldi.
“Nearing the competition, I was swimming better. And to win seven golds, I think I really credit them a lot,” he shared. He added that he was planning on settling for just getting in the final rounds of the UAAP tournament but his teammates were determined to make him persevere in concluding his events with podium finishes. “They said ‘you can still win’ and it happened. It’s mostly because of them.” Alkhaldi said.
Now in the offseason, athletes usually take a break from training. Although the Green Tanker believes “it’s never too early to prepare for the next season.” The swimmer went back to training a month after the conclusion of the recent UAAP Season 80 swimming tournament. For him, training is enjoyable to the extent that he would feel very accomplished afterwards. As he trains early in the morning, Alkhaldi affirmed, “I started the day right and it gives me the energy to do what I’m supposed to do for the rest of the day.” As days pass, Alkhaldi will only continue to move forward and make bigger splashes in his upcoming years in the UAAP.