Michael Phelps Mentor Guiding Filipina Swimmer’s ‘Big Splash’

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by Brian Yalung

Swimming is expected to be among the sports where the Philippines can haul in gold medals for the 30th Southeast Asian Games. Filipino swimmers hope to do the country proud and a lot of them recently took part in the 1st Philippine National Open Swimming Championships held at Aquatics Center at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

The event was branded as the “Battle of Champions” mainly because the top swimmers were among the 193 participants who were aiming to don the Philippine colors for the coming SEA Games.

There were however lesser-known swimmers in the mix such as Chloe Kenndy Anne D. Isleta. The 21-year-old has been quietly making waves abroad. She built quite a resume during her high school years.

Chloe Kennedy Anne D. Isleta (photo by Brian Yalung)
Chloe Kennedy Anne D. Isleta (photo by Brian Yalung)

A look at www.thesundevils.com details the accomplishments of the 21-year-old tanker. That includes winning the California state championship in the 200 IM during her senior year at Presentation High School in San Jose, California and setting multiple high school records during various stages of her prep career in the 100 backstroke, 200 medley relay, 100 fly, 100 free, 50 free and 200 IM.

She was also part of the Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics swim club that won the Junior National Championships in winter and summer from 2014-16.

Even with the long list of accomplishments, Chloe wanted to continue her rise in the sport. And there is perhaps no better way than to be mentored by Olympic coach Bob Bowman.

Bowman is the same person behind the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps who holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals.

“I’m very grateful to have him (Bob Bowman) as a coach. He is very experienced and I feel like I have learned a lot from him,” said Isleta when asked on how it felt to be handled by Bowman.

Chloe knows that being under someone like Bowman will not be a walk in the park. She admits that there are times when the 54-year-old coach would be hard on them but understands why.

Coach Bob Bowman (L) with Chloe Isleta (R) (photo credit: Cecille Doromal-Waller)

“Of course he is hard but there is a balance. When it’s needed, he will be very hard on us. But he knows what he is doing, he is very specific in many areas and has it planned. I like that because it shows us how we can reach our goals,” she said.

Like any swimmer, Chloe knows that there are areas where she needs to improve on to be a great swimmer. When asked on what coach Bowman wanted her to improve on, it was her finish when doing the backstroke.

“He told me this a couple of times and I’ve gotten in trouble. My finishes on my backstroke. He is like, you have to finish to the wall. I always do this dolphin-kick at the end and glide. He gets mad at that. He says that because I am short if it’s me and another person and we are head-to-head, I’m gonna get out-touched. So he tells me you need to put your hand on the wall. So I’m working on that,” Isleta said.

Assuming she does make the SEA Games, this writer asked her mother, Cecille Doromal-Waller, if she would be open to seeing her daughter representing the country in future swimming events as well.

“It’s always an honor to represent the Philippines. It will be whatever she wants to do,” said the proud mother who also added that Chloe is a good singer and dancer.

“I’m all for it. She will probably have a busy schedule back in Arizona to finish her senior year and training in preparation for PAC-12 Conference Championships and NCAA Women’s Championships in Feb and Mar 2020. But after all that, she is all Philippines!” she ended.

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