by Connie Macatula-De Leon, ABS-CBN News
NAPERVILLE, IL — 11-year old Jaeddan Gamilla was awarded by Swim Swam, the most popular swimming magazine in the US, as the 2016 male Swimmer of the Year in the 10-year-old and under category.
“Honestly, he is a fantastic swimmer. He’s very gifted. His mechanics are all really sound,” said Gamilla’s coach Mark Townsend.
“We are proud, but maybe I’m more shocked when one of the coaches texted me the link. Because I never expected that there’s an existing male swimmer of the year for age group 10 & under,” said Jonel Gamilla, Jaeddan’s father.
Jaeddan, the fourth youngest of 5 siblings, participated in over 17 swimming competitions in 2016. Jaeddan has remained on top of his game — whether it’s breast stroke, butterfly, freestyle, backstroke or individual medley, which made Jaeden deserving of the title: “The most polyvalent [or versatile] swimmer for 2016.”
When Jaeddan heard the news, “the first thing I did was hug my dad and asked him if I made my team proud,” he said.
Jaeddan continues to make his team, his family, and the Filipino community proud, which he says is important for him.
“Knowing that there are a lot of Filipinos cheering for me — that makes me feel that I have a big support group and I can use that to be able to get faster in swimming.”
It is not uncommon for Jaeddan to own the fastest time in most of the swimming events he joined in 2016. One of the younger’s fastest times has broken the 100 and 200-yard individual medley records in 1987.
The Olympics is the ultimate goal for any swimmer like Jaeddan. Although he still has a long way to go, Jaedden says there’s no harm in dreaming.
“Always dream big, and if you’re ever going through something at practice, one thing I always remember is to work hard and get tired later.”
Jaeddan is currently busy training for the Illinois State Championships and the National Club Swimming Association competition in Florida, both happening in March.