Words by Lucky Chan
Photos by Karl Angelo G. delos Santos
The 89th NCAA Swimming Championship was held at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex Swimming Pool, Malate, Manila several years ago, but the memories of that season lingers on. The three-day event was much anticipated as the reigning 9-peat champions from La Salle Green Hills were looking to grab their 10th straight crown this year, marking a decade of unparalleled excellence in the NCAA Juniors Swimming Tournament.
Already being considered as a young team, as nearly half of the team were either rookies or sophomores. This came as a challenge as the main competitor of LSGH in swimming, San Beda, had souped up their roster with highly improved swimmers and recruits, but this didn’t stop La Salle from fighting to defend their crown.
Down after 2 days, it was the first time in head coach, Evan Grabador’s tenure with LSGH that his team was behind, but being a 3-time Coach of The Year, he was able to rally his swimmers to not give up, going into the third and final day.
Composed and Sure
Composure.” he said. “We had to be composed, and we had to be sure of what we were doing.” Added graduating team captain, Robby Agustin.
Day 3 was the hardest of all, as all the fatigue had started settling into the athletes’ bodies and minds, but again, “Composure”!, reminded Coach Evan. Up until the final event, the 4×100 Medley Relay, La Salle Green Hills was only in second place to San Beda, so it was in the hands of the final relay team.
This was a powerful team composed of team captain, Robby Agustin, Mj Rominquit, who was later crowned the season MVP, rookie record holder, Andrae Pogiongko, and Freshman star, Miguel Barlisan, who anchored the relay. The title was not clinched until the swimmers finished the relay in record-breaking time. When the relay team was asked about their swim, all they had to say was “Composure.”
The 10-peat NCAA Champion Swim Team consisted of:
team captain Robby Agustin – 5 golds, 5 records, co-captain
Jan del Rosario – 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 record, Season
MVP Mj Rominquit – 6 golds, 1 silver, 5 records,
seniors Chris Young, Miggy Baniqued – 2 silvers, 1 bronze, and Nitoy Rodriguez;
Juniors Mille Reyes, and JM Laxa – 2 silvers;
sophomores Alessi Castro, Ej Bartolome – 2 silvers, Elyjah Avila, Miguel Valencia, and Iñigo Ragandap,
and freshmen Andrae Pogiongko – 4 golds, 2 silver, 1 bronze, 3 records, and Miguel Barlisan – 1 gold, 3 silvers, 3 bronze, 1 record.
Head Coach Evan Grabador, who was awarded his 4th Coach of The Year Award, and assistant coaches Teohdy Gavino and MacGyver Reyes, guided and supported the team.