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Meet high school tanker who broke a college division record

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The current NCAA record in the 400-meter individual medley for men is 4:52.95, which was set last year by San Beda's Andrei Manzo.

On Sunday, a fellow Sea Lion finished the said swimming race in 4:46.61, enough to eclipse that of Manzo.

The cool thing about the said record-breaker? He is just in high school.

Jose Mari Sebastian "Baste" Arcilla, a Grade 10 student from San Beda High School, wowed everyone at the Rizal Memorial Swimming Pool by shattering not just the juniors record but also exerting enough effort to swim faster than the seniors record.

"Masaya ako. I think malayo pa ang mararating ko, kasi at my age, kaya ko nang i-beat ang record ng seniors. So I await more great things for myself," Arcilla, who also owns the old juniors record he set last year, told Dugout Philippines. The old record, 4:50.6, was also faster than that of Manzo.

Jenkins Labao, also of San Beda, would win the seniors' final shortly afterward with the time of 4:55.85.

The 400-meter individual medley juniors victory was not the only impressive result by Baste in the NCAA swimming competition.

Arcilla also broke the 50-meter backstroke juniors record by finishing his preliminary swim in 28.2 seconds, nearly matching the seniors record set last year by Wilfredo Sunglao. Baste would win the gold in the said event when he clocked in at 28.31 seconds in the final.

On the other hand, Arcilla was surprised that he was crowned the juniors MVP of the three-day tournament, edging La Salle Greenhills' Andrae Pogiongko, who himself had an impressive win by setting the new 200-meter individual medley juniors record by finishing the race at 2:14, closely matching the seniors record also set by Manzo last year and smashing the Philippine juniors record set by Arcilla during the ASEAN School Games last December.

"Di ko po ine-expect ito, kasi ang ine-expect ko na magiging MVP ay si Andrae Pogiongko. But masaya ako, kasi na-rewardan ako sa lahat ng paghihirap ko," further said the now two-time MVP, who had four golds and one silver for 112 points, enough to go up of Pogiongko, who only had 100 on four golds.

Pogiongko was supposed to be a finalist in the 400-meter individual medley juniors but was not at the venue for the final and was replaced in the last minute by Letran's Mac-Mac Anteola.

Meanwhile, Baste's family continually gives full support on his swimming career.

"Araw-araw namin siyang sinasabihan na galingan niya yung training niya," said Edna Arcilla, Baste's mother.

On the other hand, Baste's future now lies on DepEd and CHED as San Beda will implement the K-to-12 curriculum in its high school campus in Taytay, likely extending his stay in the juniors division by two more years unless he gets cleared to go to college next year.

"Di ko po sure [if I will be cleared to go to college next year] kasi sa K-12 po eh. Naguguluhan din po ako [about its implications]," Arcilla admitted to Dugout Philippines.

He also admitted that while San Beda is on his priority list, he wants to pursue a degree in civil engineering, which the said school does not offer.

"I'm considering Beda as an option, pero I'm looking for an engineering course. Kaso di siya ino-offer sa Beda. Pag-iisipan ko po. Marami pa namang panahon," Arcilla bared.

But regardless if he will stay in the high school ranks or get cleared to enter college, the juniors MVP assured that he will come back next season with a better performance.

"I want you to expect that I'll come back stronger and better. I'll learn from my mistakes from what I've done this year, and hopefully I'll come back faster," Baste vowed.