Davao's newest swimming champ

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

CLINCHING a gold medal in the 2014 Palarong Pambansa in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, the one and only for the entire Davao Region Athletic Association (Davraa) swimming team, was indeed a feat for 11-year-old Zoe Marie See Hilario.

The incoming Ateneo de Davao University sixth grader also pocketed three silvers and two bronzes.

"I really didn't expect to win a gold in the Palaro but I was wishing it. I'm happy and proud that may training paid off," Zoe, who is vacationing with her family abroad, told Sun.Star Davao in an e-mailed interview.


Zoe, who considers butterfly and backstroke as her favorite strokes, steered the region to a relay team gold in Dumaguete City last year.

It has been a while that Davraa produced a Palaro swimming gold medalist since cousins Jose Joaquin "Joboy" Gonzalez and Ana Celina Gonzalez reaped honors for the region in past Palaro editions. The Gonzalez cousins had also represented the country to the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. While Joboy landed a college scholarship in the University of Hawaii, Celina pursued a college education at the Ateneo de Manila University (Admu) and became a decorated swimmer in the UAAP.

Thus, Zoe's Palaro championship brings more hope to Davao City and Davraa swimming considering that swimming tournaments here have become so rare in recent years.

Zoe, who trains two hours, four to five times a week, is not basking on her laurels. She wants to work harder to fulfill her greatest dream. "I want to be No. 1 in PalarongPambansa."

The second child of Ralph, a physician, and Mary Anne, an entrepreneur, started swimming when she was four. Her swim club and coach encouraged her to go into competitive swimming with all-out support of her parents.

She first competed in an age-group tournament sometime in 2008 at the Ladislawa Garden Village clubhouse and emerged second overall. She was ninth in the regional meet in Mati, Davao Oriental in 2010 and struggled in the 2010 staging of the Palaro in Tarlac.

Zoe, however, first won a gold medal in the G-League series at Ladislawa in 2009.

She may have been serious in her sport but academics remains her first priority, saying, "I have to plan my time very well to keep up with school."

She maintained that being a student-athlete is fulfilling, "I can't imagine not being a swimmer."

The five-time Palaro veteran has more Palaro years ahead of her. She has more time to work on her dream and she's right on track.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 01, 2014.


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