Coach Ditay, the swimmer who molded Olympian Nancy Deano

By Alex P. Vidal

“Swimming has its educational value – mental, moral, and physical – in giving you a sense of mastery over an element, and of power of saving life, and in the development of wind and limb.”— Robert Baden-Powell

BEFORE the Philippines participated in the US-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, it sent only 14 athletes, its smallest delegation since 1932, to compete in track and field, boxing, shooting, swimming and weightlifting in the previous 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Nancy Deano of Dingle, Iloilo was the Philippine’s lone entry in the following events: women’s 400-meter individual medley, women’s 200-meter breaststroke, and women’s 100-meter breaststroke.

Deano, the fastest swimmer in Asia at that time, wound up sixth in Heat 1 of the 400-meter individual medley with a time of 5:34:89 behind Heat 1 winner and event bronze medalist Becky Smith of Canada (4:52.90); second placer Judith Hudson of Australia (5:00.25); third placer Anne Adams of Great Britain (5:09.60); fourth placer Ann Bradshaw also of Great Britain (5:10.82); and fifth placer Allison Smith also of Australia (5:17.51). Ulrike Tauber of East Germany won the gold and established the world record (4:42:77). Silver medalist was Cherly Gibson also of Canada (4:48:10).

To prove she really was made of sterner stuff, Deano finished sixth anew in Heat 2 of the 100-meter breaststroke clocking 1:20.93 behind Heat 2 winner Robin Corsiglia of Canada (1:14.14); second placer Gabriele Askamp of West Germany (1:14.31); third placer Anna Skolarczyk of Poland (1:17.16); fourth placer Anette Fredriksson of Sweden (also 1:17.16); and fifth placer Kazuyo Inaba (1:17.20). Hannelore Anke of East Germany won the event’s gold (1:11.16); silver medalist was Lyubov Rosanova of Soviet Union (1:13.04); and bronze medalist was Marina Koshevaya also of Soviet Union (1:13.30).

And in the 200-meter breaststroke, which covered four lengths of the 50-meter (160 ft) Olympic-sized pool employing the breaststroke, Deano finished 35th among 39 competitors from 22 nations with a time of 2:53.08.

Her clocking was about 20 minutes shy of gold medalist Marena Kosheveya of Soviet Union (2:33.35). Silver medalist was Marina Yurchenya also of Soviet Union (2:36.08); and bronze medalist was Lyubov Rosanova also of Soviet Union (2:36:22).

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We remember Deano’s outstanding Olympic Games achievements because of her coach, Enriqueta Dato Locara, known as “Ditay” or “Ditts” to her family and friends, who recently passed away.

It was Locara, of Brgy. San Matias, Dingle, Iloilo, who helped shape Deano’s career until the swimmer reached the pinnacle of her Olympic dreams starting when she was making waves in the national competitions.

In the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo, meanwhile, Locara was honored for her legacy and contributions to swimming as a coach. Fourth District Board Member Rolando Distura sponsored a resolution expressing gratitude to Locara who died at 98.

She was born on December 1, 1924 in Dingle, Iloilo. Coach Ditay was married to Remegio Locara. They had three children: Rey, Joseph Noel, and Reta.

According to Noel, coach Ditay learned how to swim in Jalaur River and later at the Moroboro swimming pool. During her college days at the Far Eastern University, she was recruited in the swimming team after clobbering other varsity swimmers; but her father, Isabelo Dato, wanted her to prioritize education over the pool.

After finishing her BS Education, she taught at the Iloilo City College and became chaperone of the swimming team under coach Leon Tirol. They subsequently produced the first Ilongga Olympian, Heide Coloso.

When she got married, coach Ditay continued to teach but decided to transfer in Dingle. She was assigned in Brgys. Alegria and Lincud.

When District Supervisor Quirino Beriones put up a swimming team in 1967, coach Ditay was transferred to Dingle Elementary School where she sustained her passion as a swimming coach.

She also formed the Dingle Swimming Team that helped pave the way for Dingle swimmers to be noticed and recognized in the region for winning various school competitions.

Noel added that the first Dingleanon to represent the country in swimming was Teodoro “Ted” Maca, who participated in the age group competition in Tokyo, Japan.

Dingle swimmers also dominated the Western Visayas Meet and became champions in the Palarong Pambansa. When Dingle became known as the “Home of Swimmers”, coach Ditay was recognized by the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA) as producer of champions.

Since then, Noel said, children from surrounding barangays in Dingle were inspired to become swimmers. One of them was Nancy Deano.

Here’s how Noel narrated the golden days of Dingle swimming and his mother’s sterling contributions to swimming’s Renaissance in Dingle:

“Many swimmers finished their studies and became professionals thru swimming. As a coach, Mrs Locara was very strict especially during training. She trained her swimmers the whole year round. She spent her money to feed her swimmers and solicited from friends and relatives for swimsuits and other needs. As a mother, she was very loving and caring. At home, she cooked her children’s favorite dishes and desserts. Her love of swimming did not end in her retirement at 65. She taught swimming for another four years at the WVSU main campus (PESCAR). After that, she conducted Learn to Swim sessions every summer sponsored by the Dingle LGU. She wanted everyone to learn how to swim since the Philippines is an archipelago. She was the consultant of the Iloilo Sea Warriors Team and attended the Palarong Pambansa in Palawan and Luzon despite her age. At 95, she taught her cousin’s grandchildren how to swim, her last coaching. According to her, a coach should have a dedication in order to produce quality athletes.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)

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