By John Edison Ubaldo
The University of the Philippines Men’s and Women’s Varsity Swimming Teams reigned supreme as they emerged as double champions in the UAAP Season 76 Swimming Championship Sunday at the Trace Aquatic Center in Los Baños, Laguna.
The UP Women’s Swim Team completed a five-year romp as they dominated their class en route to accumulating 587 points, way ahead of Ateneo de Manila University (387) and De La Salle University (115), who finished the season at second and third place, respectively.
“The team is grateful for this championship – not only for making the 5-peat, but also for making the double championship a reality,” said Team Captain Bea Grabador in a text message.
Spearheading the assault for UP in the women’s category was Ma. Claire Adorna, who closed out the season with 4 golds, a silver and a bronze to go with two new UAAP records under her belt. She eclipsed former records in the 400m Freestyle and 200m Backstroke and finished on top in the 100m Freestyle and 100m Backstroke.
Siblings Delia and Denjylie Cordero also shared the limelight as they combined for 13 podium appearances on seven golds, four silvers and two bronze medals this season.
Denjylie bagged the gold and set new UAAP record times in the 100m Freestyle (2:25.58), 100m Breaststroke (1:14.06) and 200m Breaststroke (2:37.75). She also notched gold medals in the 50m Breaststroke and 400m Individual Medley, and her bronze medal came from the 200m Butterfly.
Delia Cordero, meanwhile, bagged golds in the 200m Freestyle and 200m Butterfly while taking silvers in the 400 Freestyle, 400m Individual Medley, 50m and 100m Butterfly. Her 2:21.34 finish in the 200m Butterfly garnered her a new UAAP record. She also finished with a bronze in the 800m Freestyle.
Another gold medal came in the 4x100m Medley lead from Dy, Padilla, Joy Rodgers and Arianne Velasquez.
In the 800m Freestyle relay, Monica Padilla, Riel Tanyag, Erica Lukang and Caitlin Cruz clocked 9:31.93 to finish with a silver. Whitney Dy then switched in for Cruz as the same group secured the silver in the 400m Freestyle Relay.
Despite facing controversies, Maroon rookie Mikee Bartolome accrued a gold, a silver and two bronzes. She teamed up with Joy Rodgers, Antoinette Aquino and Ana Tan in the 200m Medley to bring home the gold and a new UAAP record (2:06.75).
Bartolome is currently in hot water under the UAAP’s residency rule for varsity players. The UP freshman previously competed in the Juniors Swimming Competition for the University of Sto. Tomas.
Bartolome was able to secure a 20-day temporary restraining order against the two-year residency rule for her to compete in Sunday’s event.
The Lady Tankers also bagged a silver in the 200m Freestyle with Padilla, Lukang, Tan and Jodie De Leon leading the way.
“We did it as one team – as a family,” added Grabador.
The UP Men’s Swim Team also dethroned Ateneo by amassing 452 points to build a wide gap against second-running DLSU who collected 301 points. Ateneo settled for third by finishing with 283 points, followed by UST (175) and UE (18).
Leading the charge for the Fighting Maroons were Rianney Reynoso, Carl Dela Cruz, Christen Mercado and Joshua Balinas who combined to secure the gold and set a new UAAP record in the 4x50m Freestyle relay, clocking in at 1:41.95.
Mercado, named Rookie of the Year, also finished with a gold medal in the 50m Breaststroke and bronze in the 50m Backstroke.
Gabriel Castelo displayed dominant gold medal performances in the 50m and 100m Butterfly. He also nabbed a silver in the 200m Butterfly and a bronze medal in the 100m Freestyle.
In the 4x100m Freestyle Relay, Reynoso, Balinas, Francis Pallasigui and Benssen Ong finished in 3:48.83 seconds to claim the gold. Pallasigui and Ong then teamed up with Jao Elamparo and Fritz Anos in the 4x200m Freestyle Relay for another gold medal.
Anos, Ong, Reynoso then had Jerem Esquerra to run away with the gold in the 4x100m Medley.
Charlie Walker collected two golds, three silvers and a bronze. He came out victorious in the 50m Backstroke and 50m Freestyle, while MJ Alindogan bagged a silver in the 200m Backstroke.
Other medal winners were: Orpheus Magbanlac (bronze) in the 400 Individual Medley, Jerem Esquerra (bronze) in the 100 Breaststroke, Jeremiah Esguerra (bronze) and Nikita Dacera (bronze) in the 800m Freestyle and 1500m Freestyle.