UAAP 85 Athlete of the Year Xiandi Chua makes waves at successful SEA Games stint

Following an outstanding stint last UAAP Season 85, Xiandi Chua was selected to showcase her talent on a larger platform, representing the Philippines in the 32nd SEA Games.

After bagging several medals and breaking records in her farewell UAAP Season 85 Swimming stint in 2022, former DLSU Lady Tanker Xiandi Chua was recognized as the collegiate competition’s Women’s Individual Athlete of the Year for her notable achievements that led her side to take home the championship title. After her successful performance at the local level, Chua was called up to bring her talent to an even bigger stage and represent the Philippines in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

In her first-ever SEA Games stint, Chua set a new record for the competition with a time of 2:13.20 and won gold in the Women’s 200-meter Backstroke, shattering the previous SEA Games record of 2:13.64 by Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Anh Vien. Chua also recorded a new national record in the Women’s 200-meter Individual Medley, clocking a time of 2:17.02. Afterward, she also joined the roster of swimmers in the Women’s 4×100-meter Freestyle Relay team that tallied another silver medal for the Philippines.

Taking her mark

As the 22-year-old looked back on how she started her long-tenured swimming career, Chua’s dominance in the pool has been apparent ever since she was young. Her journey began at four years old, when her parents enrolled her in a swimming class. After a few years, she decided to pursue her newly-found talent and move on to more advanced training. “I started competitive swimming when I was six. Since then, I fell in love with the sport and I never stopped swimming,” the Philippine representative says.

Training abroad with more diverse swimmers challenged her to improve, which brought out an even more competitive side to her. “Here in Australia, I am able to complete and train with a lot of faster swimmers as compared to…the Philippines [where] I would be the fastest female in the group,” she describes.

Compared to the UAAP, Chua revealed that SEA Games preparations were more demanding because she was representing the nation, waving the Philippine flag in the international scene—going up against the best of the best swimmers from our Southeast Asian neighbors. However, she shares that competing in the UAAP was much more memorable and fun for her, much in part to the lively crowd who supported her all throughout the competition. Swimming at the collegiate level forged a more kinship rivalry, as the Lady Tanker got to swim with and against familiar faces. “In the UAAP, mostly [my] competitors…are people I’ve grown up with over the years of swimming, so they’re all my friends,” Chua states.

After donning the Green-and-White, Xiandi Chua took her talent to represent the country in the 32nd SEA Games last year.

Support system

Athletes are constantly guided by coaches who mentor them to hone their skills. For the backstroke specialist, she identifies coach Pinky Brosas as her biggest influence, “He has been a big part of my swimming; he has motivated me to reach higher.” In times when Chua was unsure about herself, her mentor offered her the motivation she required to accomplish their shared goals.

Likewise, fellow Lady Tanker and National teammate Chloe Isleta has also helped her throughout her journey. Despite competing against each other, Chua found it exciting to be in the pool with her because they made each other better by sharing tips on how to approach their races.

Above all, she credits her parents for having been instrumental in providing unconditional support for her training sessions and competition needs. She expresses her gratitude toward them for their sacrifices and for giving their hundred-percent support, sharing that her parents served as the backbone of her swimming career. “[My parents] never really complained about how difficult it was on their part, all they did was really support everything I wanted to do.”

Looking ahead

After taking home medals left and right from the UAAP 85 to the 2023 SEA Games, Chua now looks to dive into deeper water and take on the rest of the world, starting with Asiaent. Although the rising star narrowly missed a podium finish at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, Chua still set a Philippine record in the 200-meter Individual Medley. Moving forward, the former Lady Tanker hopes to continue making waves representing the flag, saying, “It’s everybody’s dream to be able to compete in the Olympics, but for now, I would say that’s a long way to go [from where I am]. We just continue to work towards that goal, and hopefully, we reach it, but if not, we try again in the next four years.”

Continuing to make her alma mater proud competing on the international stage, the national swimmer ends, “[The] Olympics is the dream, but then there are other goals that I’ve set for myself. As long as I’m able to continue representing the country [at] the highest level possible that would really make me happy.”

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