THE Congress of Philippine Aquatics, Inc. is getting better, bolder and bigger.
Coming off a productive season, organizing events and establishing clusters for its regionalization program, COPA continued its advocacy for grassroots development and swimming inclusivity with loaded regional meets this year.
This time, COPA will be backed by the world’s leading swimming apparel, Speedo.
COPA president Batangas 1st District Congressman Eric Buhain and Speedo Philippines Vice President for Operation Manish Mahtani officially sealed the partnership on Thursday, giving both sides an opportunity to strengthen the association’s program from the Big City to the provinces.
“Malaking bagay ito, I’m sure ito’y umpisa lamang ng partnership. Mabubuhay ang swimming, lalo na sa mga probinsiya. Masayang-masaya kami at nagpapasalamat sa trust na ibinigay nila sa COPA,” said Buhain, an Olympian and Philippine Sports Hall-of-Famer after the sponsorship signing at the Speedo outlet at the BGC High Street in Taguig City.
For Mahtani it’s a no-brainer partnering with COPA.
“COPA, as I see it, has the most credible grassroots’ sports program. Speedo has been around for 34 years and we’re focusing also on grassroots’ development, which is very similar to COPA’s advocacy,” said Mahtani.
Board member and treasurer Chito Rivera said since COPA’s formation in 2020, it has already organized and established 70% of its regionalization program, with the remaining 30%, an equivalent of five regions (Regions 2, 9, 4B, BARMM and CARAGA), now a work in progress.
For this year, COPA launched its program in the provinces with a series of tournaments in Lanao del Norte.
It’s also all systems go for events in Davao, Bacolod and Ormoc City in Leyte next month.
“The said organized regions have already held the 1st of the 4-leg swim series in their respective regions following the COPA order of events to make sure that all WA events will be followed. There are 40 swim events including 32 individual and 8 relay events in the WA order of events,” said Rivera.
“Tinutulungan na tayo ng Speedo ever since. Nag-start tayo sa regional event natin sa Lanao at tuloy-tuloy na tayo. Sa Manila, magsisimula tayo sa tournament natin via Golden Goggle series,” said Rivera.
The Golden Goggles Qualifying Swim Series Legs 1 and 2 are slated this weekend (March 25 and 26) at the Teofilo Yldefonso Swimming Pool inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Center.
Around 390 swimmers, including students from public schools (free of charge) are confirmed to participate in the tournament, also backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and MILO.
Rivera added that all regional events will have their own championships and winners were eligible for the COPA National Championships in November.
As part of its advocacy, COPA will also promote waterpolo, diving, open water and artistics swimming by holding exhibition matches, while BIFin swimming – another medal rich sport having 24 medals in the coming Cambodia SEA Games, will also be included in the COPA calendar.
Last year, COPA through a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Finswimming Federation, Inc. took over the holding of national tryouts and formed an 8-man PH team that will be sent to the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia this May.
Those who made it to the team are Troy Castor, Kristoff Gonzales, Raymund Paloma and Renz Santos with coach Ramil Ilustre (men), while the women’s squad, handled by Caezar Alcantara, is made up of Alexi Cabayaran, Janine Dela Paz, Raina Samantha Leyran and Ishaella Mae Villa.