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Jessie Lacuna on lessons learned from watching Michael Phelps, Ledecky and co.
by rick olivares
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - While Filipino swimmer Jessie Lacuna’s Summer Games stint did not progress beyond the first round, he has routinely gone to all the swimming competitions to watch and learn from the greats.
"It has been a week since the swimming competition started here in Rio and I only missed watching one finals,” said Lacuna after leaving the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. “And Day 7 was one of the best finals I have ever seen. I was a witness to so much history.”
The seventh day of the swimming competition saw American swimmer Katie Ledecky leave the entire field in her wake en route to a gold medal and breaking the old world record in the women’s 800-meter freestyle finals. The 19-year old Ledecky finished the race at 8:04:79, shaving nearly two seconds off the old world record.
Singaporean Joseph Schooling scored a huge upset when he won the 100-meter butterfly event with a time of 50.39 denying Michael Phelps a fifth gold medal in Rio. Phelps finished with a silver medal along with South African Chad Le Clos and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh who all finished with a time of 51.14 seconds.
“It was a great finals,” remarked Lacuna, “and there’s so much to learn.”
Regarding key learnings from watching Phelps, Le Clos, Ryan Lochte, and other world-class swimmers, here is what the two-time Olympian, Lacuna, had to say.
“It think we have to point out the physical attributes of these swimmers. That helps! But you also have to look at the Japanese and the Singaporeans so it isn’t an excuse. The two things in my opinion that stood out, is one, the need to polish our technique that will help cut through the water. That is very important especially in critical and close races. And two, the mental preparation. On the world’s biggest stage, everyone has trained, followed their diets, made sacrifices and so on but how is your mental edge? I think that is where we need to improve. For example, when Michael Phelps enters, it is like everyone now thinks they are competing for silver. You can see and feel it. You cannot think that way.”
Lacuna pointed out to the huge lead that Ledecky gained on her competitors in the 800-meter free style finals. After Ledecky touched in, she waited nearly 12 seconds for Great Britain’s Jazz Carlin to finish and a total of 23 seconds for the last swimmer to come in. Race analysts on television opined that the American teen was so intimidating that the others were there just to compete for the silver and bronze medals."
“So it’s those two,” summed up Lacuna. “And of course, there’s the hunger and motivation to win."