Just keep swimming | Swimming lessons at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and the Pasay City Sports Complex
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Swimming is an important life skill that comes with benefits that go far beyond survival in the water. Swimming gives you a great aerobic workout, while being gentle on your joints and muscles. Some people abhor the feeling of being covered in sweat, and swimming presents a good alternative to any land-based recreation. Swimming can be enjoyed as an individual pursuit or with a group or team, which makes it ideal for solo and team players alike.
Although my son prefers the virtual excitement of playing video games to the sweaty exhilaration of shooting baskets, he does enjoy swimming laps at the Rizal Memorial’s Olympic-size swimming pool. I’m happy that he engages in at least one physical sport, so I do all I can to encourage it.
We count ourselves lucky to live very close to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. Its swimming center is where my brother had learned to swim, back when the complex management was more lax about allowing the public to use its facilities. The complex is where Motito learned to swim, too.
His had actually taken his first swimming lessons at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Chennai, but didn’t learn to swim there. I’d enrolled him in a “young flippers” beginners’ class for pre-schoolers. The coaching took place from 8:30-9:40 AM at the hotel’s recreation pool, which I thought wasn’t big enough for lessons. The swim coach, too, had a strange way of teaching. He would demonstrate position and strokes on the dry pool grounds, which the kids were supposed to imitate, then let the children jump in the pool in the final 15 minutes of each session. All in all, there were eight sessions in the course, and only in the eighth and final session were the children allowed to swim for the entire hour. Somehow, all the children did learn how to swim. Except Motito. He kept flailing and crying in the water, and the coach seemed like he had little patience for kids who couldn’t keep up.
Back in Makati, I resolved to find a patient and caring swimming coach for Motito. I Googled nearby swimming pools that were open to the public and called them up to inquire about lessons. I was so determined to correct the mistake of his first lessons that I ended up booking two lessons at two separate venues: the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and the Pasay City Sports Complex.
Motito’s first summer schedule was with Coach Flor at the Rizal Memorial. Coach Flor has a very open, motherly demeanor that meeting her for the first time put my mind at ease instantly. It also helped that the swimming center has an Olympic size swimming pool, a kiddie pool, and a diving pool that were kept constantly clean and re-watered every week. The pool complex is closed on Mondays, when the pools are cleaned.
To be able to use the swimming pools, you have to purchase a swim ticket, which cost P45 each at the time. Back in 2013, anybody could use the pool as long as they bought a ticket. That changed sometime in 2018 or 2019, when the general public could no longer walk in to be able to use the pool.
The management started requiring interested swimmers apply to the Philippine Sports Commission beforehand to be allowed to use the pool. Basically, you had to write a letter addressed to the PSC head, explaining that you or your will child will be taking swimming lessons at the Rizal Memorial. You will personally hand over your letter to the person in charge, whose office is on the third floor of the administrative building. The officer will ask you a few questions, like who’s going to be student, if you already have a coach in mind, just basic stuff like that.
Once your application is approved, it will be stamped with the necessary credentials and will serve as your permit. Next, you must enlist the services of one the complex’s resident swim coaches. When going for your swimming lessons, you must show your approved letter of application and a swim ticket to whoever is manning the entrance to the swimming complex. The procedure might have changed since the pandemic, but you may call ahead and ask.
The new policy serves a dual purpose. First, it helps control the crowd at the swimming complex. Second, it gives employment to retired swimming coaches and athletes. It makes sense, because the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex was built for the purpose of sports training and development. This is where the Philippine swim, water polo, and diving teams practice, and where Palarong Pambasa and SEA Games are held. A few nearby colleges use the pools for their P.E., too, so some days are busier than others.
So, back to the story of my son’s swimming lessons. Motito happened to be Coach Flor’s only student when he started, so he really benefitted from the one-on-one attention. We had chosen a morning session that wasn’t crowded, especially during the weekdays. Eight sessions cost around P3,500, if I recall correctly, and it was worth every centavo. Motito was in the water from Day 1, and by his fourth session, he could already swim freestyle!
His next course of swimming lessons took place at the Pasay City Sports Complex. Pasay City. I believe the coaching fees in Pasay are more or less the same as the ones charged in Rizal Memorial. As for the swimming pool fees, Pasay City residents pay P40, while non-residents P50 per use.
His Pasay City teacher was varsity swimming coach Jeffrey Medrano. Coach Jeff has an easy-going but professional way about him, and he, too, knows how to encourage kids to overcome their fear of the water. The Pasay City pool was indoors, which turned out to be a good thing, because it had rained a couple of times we were going there in May.
Compared to Rizal Memorial, the Pasay City pool was more crowded, and was located farther from our place. Once his lessons there got over, Motito went back to swimming in Rizal and would go every summer, until the pandemic disrupted our normal routines and the sports complex became off-limits to the public.
It’s been three years since our last visit the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. With the world around us opening up more and more, I’m confident Motito will be back swimming there next summer.
If you’re thinking of sports lessons to enroll your child in, I highly recommend swimming. Swimming is an excellent form of low-impact, high-benefit exercise that will help your child conquer their fears and improve self-confidence.