The Children of Asia International Competition is held every four years since 1996 in Yakutsk, Russia. I am honored to represent the Philippines as we are the first set of athletes to ever join this meet. I am also thankful that I was one of the six swimmers who had the opportunity to join this competition. From this competition, I expected to have fun and meaningful experiences and expected to see some great swims for me to achieve.
Some of the swimmers whom I went with were complete strangers to me but because of the long flights and being together for almost a day and a half, we were able to nurture a strong bond of friendship, and have accepted one another as teammates. I consider this as one of the best experiences I’ve had because I got to know other great swimmers and got to befriend them.
One of the best and most fun experiences I had during the competition was trading pins with other countries. Even though it would be embarrassing to ask a stranger for an exchange, it would still be a great “achievement” for me especially because I am a shy person. Having conversations with the other athletes from other countries gave me more confidence to talk to strangers. I met a Syrian swimmer, a year younger than I am, and I asked if we could trade pins and he told me to bring one the next day. When we met again the next day, he said that he had lost the pin but as a replacement for that pin he gave me his swim cap with his country’s flag on it. I was so thankful for what happened. Then there was this other swimmer who was really kind; he even gave me food right after I had a bad swim, before our chat. His act of kindness struck me because even if we were complete strangers he would still give his time to help out a stranger who had a bad swim.
Though some swims were horrible, some of them were actually really good. When I achieved a personal best, I was also first in heat. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I did not want it to end. I loved it when we all wanted each other to become better and to improve. I loved it when we would cheer for each other and support one another.
All these great achievements would not be possible without the help of other people. I would like to thank POC, PSI, and PSC for allowing and supporting us to join the 6th Children of Asia International Sports Games, giving us the opportunity to experience what other swimmers in the Philippines may not have. I would also like to thank Ma’am Annie, Tita Lani, Miss Judith, and Miss Gina for guiding us through the competition and giving us advice on how to present ourselves to other people. I would also like to thank my coach for giving me advice about my swims — on what to do or how to approach the event. I would also like to thank my parents who supported me and and let me join this competition. Overall my experience here in Yakutsk was very exciting and full of joy.