Swim coach: Give Kayla Sanchez time to adjust

More than just a coach, Swiss swimming mentor Luka Gabrilo sees himself as a protector and ‘shield’ of talented swimmer and Tokyo Olympic medalist Kayla Sanchez as she makes the huge transition to competing for the Philippines in to be a pillar of the Canadian National Swim Team. .

“Kayla is currently facing so many changes. So let’s give him some space and not too much pressure,” said Gabrilo, who had a two-hour face-to-face conversation with Sanchez for the first time last week about how to plan his training schedule. training and competition in the coming months. .

Gabrilo, head coach of the Israel swimming team which competed in the Tokyo Olympics, stressed that he was not a miracle worker and that it would take time to make Sanchez one of the country’s individual medal hopefuls at the Paris 2024 Summer Games.

“Wait wait. No no No. It’s a dream. At the moment, (to have an individual podium for Sanchez at the Paris Olympics), seems impossible,” he said emphatically. individual Olympic medal is unfair.”

As a member of the Canadian swimming team, Sanchez, whose parents were born in the Philippines before migrating from Singapore to Canada, won silver and bronze medals respectively in the women’s 4×100 meters freestyle and 4×100 relays. medley in the Japanese capital. from Tokyo last year.

Realizing the weight of expectations that Sanchez, who turned 21 on April 7, had on his broad shoulders, Gabrilo vowed “to protect her. Be his shield. Let’s put the pressure on Lani (Velasco, president of Philippine Swimming Inc.). Let’s put the pressure on me.

Drawing on his decade of experience working with swimmers from seven national federations, the Swiss coach said what the swimmer was trying was not easy, especially after coming from a very Canadian swimming program. successful and well funded.

“We don’t even spend a hundredth of what they invest and now we want to do better than them (with Sanchez)? How?” He asked.

Former Swiss national junior swimming star Gabrilo said there will be times when Sanchez might question her decision to compete for the Philippine flag when she asks “did I make the right choice?”

“Those times will come and that’s when she needs our love; be treated positively and not feel pressured.

He said the general idea of ​​training Sanchez was “to see what she did best in an individual race, set benchmarks and go from there. The goal is to let her do better than she ever did individually. That’s the point. My question to Kayla was if she was ready to commit to it.

In his long chat with the swimmer, Gabrilo said that “we have the same vision and we are on the same page. We are both convinced that we can achieve what is required.

For his part, Sanchez said that with the tutelage of the Swiss coach “you can expect my absolute best. I was also looking for change after working with my former coach (Ben Titley of Swim Canada), someone who could take me to the next level and be able to achieve great things for the Philippines.

“I have faith in (coach) Luka and his ability to challenge me and help me set the best times and prepare for these big international competitions.”

She said that with Coach Luka’s instructions, she resumed her training and did 5,000 meters of swimming in the pool “and now we’re going to do 6,000 meters next.”

“We are starting to work out our plan until December, but nothing is set in stone yet. We just make sure I do what I have to do,” added Sanchez, revealing that she could leave the country towards the end of the year to compete in a short-course event abroad.

After serving his one-year residency as required by the International Swimming Federation, the world swimming body known by its French acronym FINA, Sanchez will be eligible to see action for the Philippines for the first time at the scheduled world championships. in Fukuoka, Japan. in July 2023.

She said she had also set her sights on the Hangzhou Asian Games from September 23 to October 8, 2023 in Hangzhou, China, hoping the 31-year-old would be dry in the quadrennial continental showcase since Billy Wilson reigned supreme among the men. 200 meters freestyle at the Asiad in New Delhi in 1982.

Gabrilo said winning an individual medal for Sanchez, whose favorite events are freestyle and backstroke, at the 19th Asian Games was an achievable goal.

“Let’s try to do that. Let’s talk about a medal at the Asian Games. We want to write history, but let’s do it step by step. I want to jump properly first, but my goal for (Sanchez) is to fly,” he said.