An Interview With Rio Olympics 2016 Swimmer, Jessie Lacuna

Born and raised in Bulacan, Jessie Khing Lacuna started swimming when he was only 3 months old. He treated the water like a second home, crawling from his house to the nearby pool and exploring its depths with an intent passion that continued to grow as he aged. The 23-year-old Olympics contestant said that his 2 older brothers, Billy and Jay, used to taunt him with their high swimming scores and boasted about their exploits in the water.

All that taunting actually sparked a competitive edge in Jessie, who swam his way into competitions such as the Southeast Asian Games, Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships, the London Games and a series of many more, ringing in medals by the heaps.

Now our very own Jessie will be representing Philippines in the Men’s 400km Freestyle swimming event at the 2016 Olympics in Rio tomorrow!

Don’t forget to catch Jessie live in action! We’re so glad that he took some time off his hectic schedule to chat with us about his preparation for the Olympics and his dedication to his swimming, which is a sport that has benefited him both physically and mentally.

jessie lacunaPhoto credit: rappler.com

GAWIN: Hi Jessie! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. How are your preparations for the Olympics?
For the preparation, I had to sacrifice some things, like not enrolling for the second semester of college [Jessie attends Ateneo de Manila University]. I took a leave of absence just to focus on the training. I got to go to Canberra in Australia for a training camp for 3 months. So during a typical training routine, I’ll train from 5.30AM until 9AM, which includes swimming and gym workout sessions. Then I’ll eat brunch and rest for a bit before heading back to the pool at 4.30PM until 7PM for more training. After some rest, I have dinner and then sleep. And the cycle repeats itself every day.

GAWIN: What do you love most about swimming?
When I swim, I feel like I’m in another world. It’s so relaxing and being in the water helps to clear my mind. I feel happy and weightless.

GAWIN: Can you name some things that swimming has taught you over the years?
Swimming taught me a lot of things. It’s taught me to think critically, to be disciplined, and I think it taught me a lot more about myself. I learned more about myself and patience is one of the things I love.

jessie lacuna rio olympics swimmerPhoto credit: Jessie Lacuna

GAWIN: Was there a time when you felt exhausted or stressed during your competitions or training sessions? How did you motivate yourself to keep pushing forward?
Everyday! I mean, how would anyone feel if they were doing the same thing for the 10-15 years? It’s boring, right? However, at the end of the day, I realize that swimming makes me really happy, and I just need to work on some turns, techniques and pacing. That’s why I keep coming back!

GAWIN: What is your favorite event to swim? And do you have a favorite swimming style?
I’m a fan of the 200m-400m freestyle, but I also like the butterfly and medley strokes.

GAWIN: What is something important that people should know about swimming?
Swimming is life! I mean, if you know or learn how to swim, I guess you can do anything!

Philippines' Jessie Khing Lacuna prepares to compete in the heats of the men's 200m freestyle swimming event during the 17th Asian Games at the Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Centre in Incheon on September 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU / AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAUPhoto credit: rappler.com

GAWIN: So in your opinion, what is the best way to learn how to swim?
If you drown, you have a chance to learn. All jokes aside, as long you’re not afraid of the water, you can learn it. It will just take some time.

GAWIN: And finally, what is your ultimate goal in life, and how do you plan on achieving it?
After Rio, I’m planning to finish my studies. And then I want to reach out to other swimmers and try to inspire them to reach greater heights.

Similar to what Jessie said, swimming is really beneficial for the body and it is a low-impact sport that provides mental clarity. It makes for a healthy hobby too, as it sculpts your muscles and strengthens your physical endurance. So if you’re interested in learning how to swim like a pro, Gawin can connect you to dedicated swimming instructors who will patiently guide you through the basics. And not to worry, our instructors are certified swimming coaches, so you’ll be saving lots of time hunting for the perfect instructor.


by Carissa Gan