LEADERS of the Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI) and long-time rival Philippine Swimming League (PSL) are working out issues that have hounded the sport for few years.
PSI president Ral Rosario along with Akiko Thomson-Guevarra sat together with PSL counterpart Susan Papa on Tuesday at the Behrouz Persian Cuisine Restaurant in Timog and freely talked about unifying their respective groups, with the common goal of forming the strongest national team together in the future.
All three are former multi-titled national athletes.
Rosario said the election of Ricky Vargas as new Philippine Olympic Committee president had something to do with the move of the PSI – the recognized swimming federation in the country – to welcome members of the PSL to its fold.
Under Papa, the PSL – which has 150 swimming clubs across the country – had been refused accreditation by the PSI under former president Mark Joseph, keeping its members from suiting up for the national team.
Papa has been at odds with Joseph, who’s a known ally and supporter of Vargas’ predecessor, former congressman Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco.
“I think so,” Rosario curtly replied when asked if Vargas’ election as POC president led to this unification.
“Hopefully, this will bring a broken community together,” added the Asian Games gold medalist, who also had stints in the 1972 (Munich) and 1976 (Montreal) Olympics.
“The issue with the PSL is a long standing issue for PSI and I think it’s time to bring it to an end. It’s time, if you wanna call it, a new ear to Philippine swimming. We should do it for the benefit of all swimmers and the whole community.”
Papa, an Asiad veteran like Rosario, welcomed PSI’s gesture. He hailed the meeting as a ‘historic moment.’
“We appreciate this unification,” said Papa, accompanied by PSL secretary-general Dra. Susan Benasa.
Papa stressed once more the PSL doesn’t intend to rival the PSI as what Joseph perceived.
“We don’t have any intention of being a national sports association, whatsoever,” she said. “I’ve been very clear on that, and I’ve been very consistent that we don’t have any intention to be an NSA. We leave that to Ral.”
Rosario himself is not spared of issue within the PSI.
After initially being named OIC by the POC a year ago, Rosario found himself stripped of the position after the federation held a ‘snap elections’ last February in which his former secretary-general Lani Velasco was elected president by the new PSI Board of Trustees.
But the new POC leadership under Vargas recently decided the election was void after Rosario and his group questioned the legitimacy of Velasco’s presidency.