This Fil-Am swimmer is faster than Michael Phelps at 16 years old

(Tim Binning/ The Swim Pictures)


In an archipelago like the Philippines, people depend on its surrounding waters for a living, hence it is expected for its people to be known as noted swimmers, among others.

Unknown to many, the first Southeast Asian to win a medal in the Olympics was a Filipino: Teofilo Yldefonso, when he clinched a bronze medal in the 200-meter men’s breaststroke event in the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympics. Since then, and despite all this water around us, Filipino swimmers have yet to really make waves in the international swimming scene. (Our height probably has something to do what, too).

But poor support from the government is also to blame for swimming’s sorry state in the country. Just last March, the Philippine Sports Commission crossed out swimming and weightlifting in its list of priority programs, citing “lack of grassroots programs and nonperformance.”

On the other side of the globe, though, a 16-year-old Filipino-American swimmer was able to beat Michael Phelps’ 2001 record in the 100-meter butterfly at the USA Swimming finals last year.

Despite the feat, Justin Lynch—whose parents are of Filipino and African-American descent—just keeps on paddling, with his eyes set on the upcoming 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.

“I could hear my friends screaming at the end of the pool, but I didn’t know for sure until I turned around,” Lynch told Just right after his fingertips reached the pool’s wall, he turned around and saw the big, red numbers that read: 52:75. He has beaten Michael Phelps’ 13-year record of 52.98 at the age-group mark.



Quoting more from the Ozy report:

He seems remarkably well-balanced and well-spoken for an 18-year old who’s getting fed a taste of fame. For every compliment he allows, he offers a slightly self-deprecating remark and a gentle laugh. He used the word “lucky” again and again, as if by sheer luck he had beaten Phelps’ times, and he’s quick to credit his peers and his coaches for his rising success.

Aside from his record-breaking swim, he continues to make headlines, as he is the only minority swimmer in the University of California-Berkeley Swimming and Diving team. In the US, swimming is a sport dominated by the whites, partly rooted in discrimination in access to public swimming pools in the 30′s.

“…If I could help bring other minorities to the sport, that could be great,” Lynch added.

Back on this side of the world, we’re still waiting for our first Olympic gold. If only he could swim for the Philippines…