Though strong self-belief helps, Jgeth Mercado is keen to make waves in the swimming scene with his team by his side

By Janica Balasolla | Photos by Patrick Segovia | Grooming by Bullet Reyes

As cliché as it may sound, Jgethsemanee Mercado “found peace in the water” as early as nine years old.

“I join family outings just so I could swim, kahit hindi ko family ‘yung may outing sumasama pa din ako.” However, his love for the water refers to his love for the pool, not the beach. “I don’t like sharks. I don’t feel at peace at the beach at all.” The 21-year old varsity member of Centro Escolar University’s swimming team juggles his trainings with his nursing studies, and being a graduate student, Mercado has a lot on his hands.

“Sometimes my schedule clashes with my hospital duty so I skip a couple of trainings. I’m actually surprised they still allowed me to take up nursing while being an athlete despite its demanding nature.” Mercado admits it is hard but he has gotten used to it through efficient time management and his outgoing personality. He considers swimming a lifestyle and when it comes to training, Mercado takes it seriously to improve his endurance. “Ang stretching and warm-up namin is core workouts, after pa noon ‘yung actual swimming. We need to finish 4000 meters every night. That’s 2 ½ hours without rest.”

They also have hypoxic trainings, where they limit their breathing once every five, seven, or nine strokes during a repeat distance or throughout a set. “There was a time when we had to swim underwater until we reached 25 meters. Kaya naman, pero pag-ahon mo mahirap na.”

When it comes to his nutrition, Mercado keeps track of it himself diligently. The nature of his sport requires him to load on carbohydrates. “I don’t have a particular diet; I like eating pasta and burgers, but I’m not allowed to drink carbonated drinks. Electrolyte drinks, sure. But never softdrinks.”

It seems then that the pros and cons of swimming is at a deadlock, which Mercado affirms. “You love it and hate it at the same time.” He’s become bored and unmotivated a couple of times, but his inclination towards the water serves as his wakeup call every time it happens. “I just crave it eventually, that’s how I love it so much.” His coach and teammates keep him coming back to the pool area as well. “It’s a nice feeling knowing that you’re not alone because you’re experiencing it with your teammates. They give you motivation and you motivate yourself. Kapag hindi ka kasi nag-training, hindi ka talaga lalakas.”

A young tanker in a world full of seasoned swimmers, Mercado relies on his passion for swimming to achieve his goals. “Your passion for swimming enables you to see it not as competition or a sport but a lifestyle. It becomes a part of you, and it becomes you.”

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest sports news and active lifestyle and fitness features you need