Lani Velasco opens door for swim tryouts

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PSI president Lani Velasco said yesterday that while there are rules to follow in registering swimmers from affiliated clubs or groups for the coming national team tryouts, she will leave the door open for other aspirants to join on condition they submit a letter of intent to participate.

“My goal is to allow everyone to swim and compete under PSI which is the recognized national organization by FINA, Asian Swimming Federation and POC,” said Velasco. “I’m not here to divide. I want to unite everyone but in a proper way, following the rules. It’s not true that I am propagating exclusivity. Under FINA rules, PSI can recognize only swimmers from clubs that are affiliated with us. I’ve never denied swimmers the chance to compete for the national team. I’ve denied recognition of two coaches, however, with justifiable cause.”

Starting today, Velasco said PSI will process the renewal of registration of all affiliated clubs and groups, preparatory to holding the national tryouts. For new clubs, the registration will begin on Feb. 1.

“A new club or group formed by a coach must be made up of at least eight swimmers who aren’t transferees from other clubs,” she said. “If there are individual swimmers who want to register and try out for the national team but aren’t with an affiliated club or organization, all they need to do is to submit a letter of intent and I will personally take care of it. They can come to see me, explain their situation and put their intent to try out in writing. This isn’t a new development. In 2017, two PSL swimmers Kayla Soguilon and Arbeen Miguel Thruelen registered with PSI and joined our tryouts for the 2018 Southeast Asian Age Group Championships. Arbeen is now the record holder of the 100-meter butterfly for boys in the 13-and-under age group. Another PSL swimmer Gerard Jacinto registered with us and was with the 2018 Southeast Asian Age Group delegation. While PSL is not an affiliated club, we are open to its swimmers to register with us.”

Velasco said her job is to protect all swimmers. “First and foremost, I’m a mother,” she said. “To disenfranchise swimmers is so not me. As a mother, I want to protect my kids and as PSI president, I consider all swimmers my kids. When I joined PSI in 2014, we had 700 registered swimmers. Now, we have 2,000. In 2015, we had only seven junior swimmers. Now, we have more than 37 from different coaches all over the country.”

Velasco said the proposal for the POC to supervise the tryouts is not feasible. “Firstly, PSI has the technical knowhow and authority to conduct the tryouts,” she said. “Secondly, I don’t think the POC will go against PSI’s autonomy. The reason why PSI supervises the competitions in the Batang Pinoy, Palarong Pambansa and PNG is we want to authenticate times and records so swimmers can check how they measure up.”

Velasco said it’s not right for former Olympic swimmers to question her leadership when she has been upheld by FINA and the Asian federation. “They know FINA rules and shouldn’t be disruptive,” she said. “They use the PSI logo and want to conduct their own tryouts. FINA is quite upset about this. I know (POC president) Mr. (Ricky) Vargas wants PSI to be inclusive but there are rules to follow in making it possible. As I’ve always mentioned, I want to unite everyone under PSI.”

Source : Joaquin Henson, The Philippine Star

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