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Miguel Molina Cal swimmer Miguel Molina (photos courtesy of Cal Athletics)

Cal swimmer Miguel Molina to represent the Philippines in the Olympics

Miguel Molina, a 20-year-old UC Berkeley junior and a member of the Cal men's swim team, left Berkeley on Saturday for Athens, where he'll compete in the 2004 Olympic Games. UC Berkeley Media Relations caught up with him via e-mail before he took off.

Tell us a little bit about your background. Did you swim at a young age?

I was born in Quezon City, which is in Manila, in the Philippines, but I moved to Tokyo, Japan, with my whole family when I was 3. I started swimming when I was in first grade, so around 6 years old. I don't know if there's any truth to this story, but apparently soon after I was born, either my grandfather or my dad put me in the bathtub and I was floating, so I guess you could say I started early. No one else in my family swims. My parents were both runners and basketball players.

 Miguel Molina
Miguel Molina

What country will you be swimming for? Which events?

I'll be swimming for the Philippines in the 200 IM (individual medley), 400 IM, 200 freestyle and 200 breaststroke. Mostly all my relatives live in the Philippines, except for two of my aunts. For the most part, my aunts and uncles and grandparents are in the Philippines.

Why did you choose to attend UC Berkeley?

My coach back in Tokyo said Berkeley would be a perfect fit for me, and he really recommended swimming under Nort (Thornton). I felt that the other schools I was seriously looking at, the University of Minnesota and Northwestern University, didn't have the reputation that Berkeley had in Tokyo.

What do you most enjoy about being at UC Berkeley?

I like the fact that you can meet 50 people a week at Cal and still not meet everyone in the whole college. In Tokyo, where I went to one of four international schools, there were 50 people who graduated from my class. I like being more anonymous. As for the swim team, I really like hanging around my teammates. They are a fun bunch. What I like the best is that we are one of the top teams in the nation.

What are your best strokes and times?

My times are 4:23.2 in the 400 IM, 2:04.9 in the 200 IM, 1:52.8 in the 200 free and 2:20.8 in the 200 breast. I think my best events are the 400 IM and the 200 IM, but it is going to be really tough competition. Since the last Olympics, the IM is one of the disciplines in swimming that has improved the most in four years.

How would you describe your attitude as your head to Athens?

I just try not to think about it too much so I don't lose sleep over it, but recently I've been having a tough time sleeping. Maybe it's the weather finally acting like summer. I don't think I've fully realized the fact that I'm going to compete in the Olympics yet, though. Perhaps when I get there, or maybe even after I do my swimming, the fact will settle in. I am excited, however, to see all these great athletes I only see on TV. But I don't want to be that guy who is in the Olympics just to see other athletes and get pictures and autographs and admire the beauty of Greece. I want to be the one who competes, too, and takes the races seriously.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell the Cal community?

I just want to say I know the Cal fans will be supporting us. The Olympics is the one time that smaller sports like swimming and track, amongst others, get recognition instead of the usual football and basketball. (I am looking forward to those seasons,though!) And I promise I will do my best to represent Cal well.