Cebu swimmer turns family tragedy to triumph
CITY OF NAGA, Philippines - Andrew Kim Remolino has an infectious grin. But behind that grin is a sad story. He started competing in swimming about 12 years ago, but a tragic event two years ago has given more meaning to every competition he joins.
Remolino was shocked when his older brother, John Luigi, the one he had always looked up to and bickered with since he could remember, took his own life.
John Luigi Remolino committed suicide at the age of 19 after a disagreement with his girlfriend. He was a 4-year Palaro veteran and a bemedalled athlete in the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association meets.
“Mura kog na shock, na down jud ko, wa jud ko training ato, undang tanan,” the 16-year-old Remolino said.
(I was like in shock, I felt really down, I did not train, everything stopped.)
After 3 weeks, Remolino said he found the strength to go back to the pool through the words of his father who told him “kung naa man gani mo goal, inyo jud abton, inyong na sugdan na goal inyo jud abton.” (If you have a goal, if you have started one then you must reach for it.)
It was also then that Remolino decided to make the death of his brother a motivation, an inspiration.
“Ni decide ko nga tanan nakong daog ako i-dedicate sa iya, dako na kaayo ang meaning every competition.” (I decided to dedicate to him all my victories, every competition now has a big meaning.)
Remolino said that he often thinks of his brother in every competition just like yesterday when he was on the last lap of the 200-meter freestyle contest of the ongoing Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (CVIRAA) Meet at the City of Naga’s new Olympic-size pool.
“Labi na katong pag 200 freestyle last lap na nako, sige ko hunahuna para iya jud, para niya jud," said Remolino.
(Especially in the 200 freestyle, in my last lap I keep thinking this is for him, this is for him.)
And Remolino did not disappoint as he finished with the silver medal in the contest.
The Remolinos will be remembering John Luigi in his second death anniversary next month. And, they now have a new source of comfort—John Luigi II, the son of the eldest Remolino sibling who they say is a dead ringer for John Luigi.
Remolino even spent his Olango Challenge winnings last year for the christening of John Luigi II, whom he says has also become one of his inspirations.
The young tanker said that what he misses most about his brother is his naughtiness and the way he had always teased him.
“Na pursue nako akong swimming kay usahay iya sawayan ako stroke, hinay kaayo ko, mao na magcompete mi duha, maglumba-anay mi.” (I pursued my swimming because sometimes he calls out my stroke, he teases me that I am slow, that is why we have mock competitions with each other.)
Early Birthday Gift
Remolino gave himself an early birthday gift by finishing this year’s CVIRAA with two gold medals and 4 silver medals. He is turning 17 on February 26.
His gilts came from the 800-m freestyle and the 4x100 medley relay. Aside from the 200-m freestyle, he bagged the rest of his silver medals in the 400-m freestyle, 200-m backstroke and 4x100-m freestyle.
Remolino started swimming at the young age of 4 and started going into proper training a year later. He bagged his first gold during his first competition, the 6-Under Talisay Novice Meet when he was 5 years old.
The youngster admitted that the primary reason why he went into swimming was because his father is a swimming coach. But now, he cannot imagine his life without swimming.
He said he has this love and hate relationship with the sport — “hate nako mo train pero akong lang hunahuna-on na di ko ka imagine sa ako kaugalingon kung wa ang swimming.” (I hate training but I just think to myself that I cannot imagine my life without swimming.)
He added that training is hard and tiring but he understands that no one succeeds without training.
“Di ko maabot diri kung wa sad ko nagswim.” (I will not be here if I did not go into swimming.)
Thus he says that he will continue with the sport as long as he can still do it. His goal — to be able to represent the country someday in the Olympics.
As a member of the Philippine triathlon junior pool, Remolino already gets to represent the country in international triathlon races wherein he has brought in a handful of medals already.
He says he also dabbles in triathlon so he won’t get burned out in swimming as aside from swimming, he also gets to bike and run in triathlon.
Despite his various medals from national and international events, Remolino goes back to when he was 6 years old as having had his biggest achievement.
He was the youngest, at six years old, to have finished the one-mile swim to preserve the Lagundi Reef in the City of Talisay, Cebu. But what makes it his biggest achievement is not the fact that he was the youngest to have finished the race nor that it was his first open water swim.
For Remolino, it was special because it was in that race that he truly felt how much his father cared for him.
“Siya man jud gabantay nako, ga guide nako, bali ga swim ko, ga swim sad siya sa luyo nako.” (He was really the one who watched over me, the one who guided me like I was swimming and he was swimming behind me.) – Rappler.com