Philippine national record holder, Luke Michael Gebbie, debuted for Team Philippines with a bang by becoming the first ever Filipino swimmer to have gone sub 50 in the Men’s 100m Freestyle event while at the same time hitting the Tokyo Olympic Selection Time at the 18th FINA World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Wednesday morning.
Gebbie, who has been a member of Philippine Swimming since last year, donned the Philippine colors for the first time this morning, and wasted no time in making his countrymen proud as he clocked 49.94 in the Men’s 100m Free prelims, finishing 42nd among 120 elite swimmers from around the world, 9th among all Asian swimmers, and 2nd in Southeast Asia.
His new best time is the new Philippine national record, resetting his own record of 50.25 clocked last month at the New Zealand National Open.
Previous national record holders of the 100m Freestyle event are legendary swimmers Ryan Papa, Miguel Molina and Charlie Walker.
It’s Gebbie who first crossed the 50 minute mark in the said event
This feat has also made him the second Filipino swimmer to have clocked a Tokyo Olympic Selection time (OST), wherein his 49.94 new national record has breached the 50.25 OST, and is inching closer to the 48.57 Tokyo Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT).
The first Filpino swimmer to have hit an OST was Remedy Rule at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Clovis, USA last month, where she clocked a Philippine national record time of 2:11.56 in the Women’s 200m Butterfly event, surpassing the 2:12.28 OST, and slowly crawling her way towards the 2:08.43 OQT.
At the morning prelims in Gwangju today, Rule has successfully trimmed down her 200m Fly national record to 2:11.38; narrowly missing a semifinals appearance at the World Championships.
She finished 19th among 33 elite swimmers around the world; 6th among all Asian swimmers, and number one swimmer in Southeast Asia, making her the early favorite to win the SEA Games gold of this event this December.
After four days of action in Gwangju World Championships, Team Philippines has already tallied four new Philippine national records and two Olympic Selection Times; making this batch of swimmers the best performing Philippine team sent to the World Championships in recent years.
Last remaining events for our swimmers in Gwangju are Rule’s Women’s 100m Free tomorrow, Gebbie’s 50m Free and Nicole Oliva’s 800m Free on Friday, and Rule’s 50m Free event on Saturday.
This year’s World Championship team is being mentored by coach Sherwin Santiago, while PSI President, Lailani Velasco is their in Gwanju to attend the FINA Congress, and most importantly support the team.
Please note that hitting a Tokyo “Olympic Selection Time” (OST) does not give a swimmer an automatic slot to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Only swimmers who have hit the Tokyo “Olympic Qualifying Time” (OQT) get to go to the Olympic Games, given that he/she ranks 1st or 2nd in an event.
FINA gives priority to OQT and Universality Place swimmers for the Olympic slots, then invite some OST swimmers to fill-in the needed 878 swimmers in Tokyo.
In Rio Olympic Games in 2016, FINA has filled the required number of swimmers with OQT and Universality Places swimmers; thus no OST swimmer has been invited in Rio Olympic Games.
Therefore, it is very important for a swimmer to hit the Tokyo OQT in order to cement their slot to the PH Team for Tokyo; otherwise all OST swimmers will have to fight for the 2 Universality slots that we have.