Kayla Sanchez To Represent Philippines Following Release From Swimming Canada

Two-time Olympic medalist Kayla Sanchez is looking to represent the Philippines on the international stage in the future, having been released by Swimming Canada following the conclusion of the 2022 World Championships.

Sanchez, who has been a member of the Canadian Senior National Team since 2017, was born in Singapore to Filipino parents, and felt a strong connection to her family history which ultimately led to this decision.

“I’ve always been really proud of my Filipino heritage,” Sanchez said, according to Swimming Canada. “Aside from how much I’ve grown and how good everything has been in Canada, I needed to make this really difficult decision for myself and my family to take this opportunity to represent the Philippines. I want to help inspire people that are like me to swim and get into the sport.”

The 21-year-old said she raised the possibility of changing nationalities with Swimming Canada earlier this year, and the organization obliged, granting her release as of the last day of the World Championships in Budapest, June 25.

“Kayla has been a great team member, centre member and swimmer for Canada and we will miss her,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson.

“She brought such a positive energy to our teams, as well as great swimming. Our loss will be the Philippines’ gain, but we support her in this transition as it is the direction she wishes to follow for personal and family reasons. We sincerely wish her nothing but the best in her future swimming.”

Sanchez grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, and joined Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre following the conclusion of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, having won a silver medal at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships that summer.

She then represented Canada at three straight LC World Championships, along with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, winning two Olympic relay medals and six at Worlds.

Sanchez was also a member of three world title victories at the 2021 Short Course Worlds in Abu Dhabi on the Canadian relays.

At the 2022 World Championships, Sanchez placed sixth individually in the women’s 100 freestyle, and also finished 13th in the prelims of the 50 free before scratching the semis.

“I am so thankful and appreciative of Canada. I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today without the support and how much I grew and learned,” Sanchez said.

“It’s just a point in my life where it’s time for a change. I am stepping into a new point in my swim career where I can start to focus on myself and at the same time I’m hoping to help people in the Philippines.”

 

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A post shared by Kayla Sanchez (@kaylasanchez_)

Per FINA rules,  Sanchez will have to reside in the Philippines for “the majority” of one year (six months) prior to representing them internationally.

She won’t be eligible to represent the Philippines until one year after her release from Swimming Canada, June 25, which would allow her to compete at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, which run July 14-30.

In moving on from repping Canada, Sanchez will forgo the opportunity of continuing to win relay medals at major championships, but could be in line for a financial upgrade in switching allegiances to the Philippines.

As of 2021, the Philippines was offering the USD equivalent of $200,000 for an Olympic gold medal (₱10,000,000), $100,000 for an Olympic silver medal, and $40,000 for an Olympic bronze medal. Canada’s incentive for a gold medal last year was roughly $16,000 USD ($20,000 CAD).

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is also handing out scholarships to nine of the Philippines’ best athletes in the lead-up to the Paris 2024 Olympics, each receiving ₱43,000 per month ($768 USD).

Sanchez will now not compete with the Canadian team at the upcoming Commonwealth Games, meaning three-quarters of their silver-medal-winning women’s 400 free relay will be absent. Penny Oleksiak withdrew from the competition prior to the World Championships, and Taylor Ruck took her name out of the mix prior to the original team being named.

At the 2022 World Championships, three swimmers, Jonathan CookJasmine Alkhaldi and Miranda Renner, represented the Philippines in pool swimming, with Alkhaldi’s 21st-place finish in the women’s 100 butterfly the nation’s highest finish.

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, swimmers Remedy Rule and Luke Gebbie swam for the Philippines, with Rule the top finisher after taking 15th in the women’s 200 fly.

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David
2 months ago

She’ll continue to live and train in Canada.

Kat
2 months ago

Wow this is such huge decision. It’ll somehow hurt Canada’s relay at Commonwealth since Ruck and Oleksiak will skip it.
Btw it’s interesting that Eileen Gu is probably gonna represent US instead of China in the future olympic as well and saying it’s good effect of globalization

Troyy
Reply to  Kat
2 months ago

Where’d you see that Gu is switching nationalities?

How much can CD bench???
2 months ago

I don’t know about the comments saying she’s not a real individual medal threat. She placed 6th in worlds with a heavy relay schedule. Albeit the worlds field was a bit depleted, but she’s thrown down her fair share of 52 second splits. Not having to deal with a trials taper and such a heavy relay load might make her a dark horse threat in the 100 in 2024

Jamesjabc
Reply to  How much can CD bench???
2 months ago

Her PB is a 53.12. That wouldn’t have medaled in Rio, and bronze in Tokyo was faster than gold in Rio. By Paris it’s possible that even a full second faster than that won’t medal.

It’s not impossible that she would medal in Paris (stranger things have happened) but to suggest it’s a realistic prospect isn’t really valid.

Troyy
2 months ago

Looks like USA will be safe for silver in the 4×100 free again now. Does Canada have any obvious junior prospects coming though to replace her?

Last edited 2 months ago by Troyy
CanSwimFan
Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

Good question. Right now it doesn’t look like there are any junior prospects who can rise to Sanchez’ level by 2024. But sometimes there are surprises, as we saw when Oleksiak rose to the podium ahead of schedule in Rio in 2016.

Nono
Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

I wouldn’t say it is safe, it is still pretty close. They still have Rebecca Smith who can fill that role but she has to step-up. And of course, if Taylor could regain her form then better.

Njones
Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

Definately hurts the depth of the 4*1, as in prelim swimmers. If both Taylor and Rebecca can return to their near best form then that sting will be less.

The 4*2 less impact as while she swam well and was very clutch, she was usually the 4th best split and there are a number who can and have produced 156 splits that could step in: Smith again, Savard, Sophie-Harvey (best wishes to her off late)… And a couple of younger 157/8s coming thru.

Big loss any short course champs as she was pretty much the #1 100 (and 50) Freestyler as Penny shies away from SC. And was much higher on the 200 ladder.

CanSwimFan
2 months ago

This has to be disappointing for Sanchez’ Canadian relay mates.

KRB
2 months ago

Best of luck to her. I’m wondering if there might be some discontent that she gave up some individual race opportunities at major meets to focus on relays, and this is driving her decision to “focus on myself”.

Or she is just satisfied with her results in Canada and now wants to try new approaches while swimming for the Philippines.

ScovaNotiaSwimmer
Reply to  KRB
2 months ago

I wondered this as well. She has always said that she loves the relays but maybe scratching her semis in Tokyo and Budapest were not as much her decision as she would have liked.

njones
Reply to  KRB
2 months ago

There seems to have been a historical trend with snc with a noticeable amount of individual scratches for relay focus. Certainly Sanchez past couple years, Pickrem in Tokyo, Penny and Taylor in 2019, Hayden a couple times, most notably scratching the 200 free after producing the 3rd fastest prelim swim in 2008. Can only hope that those individuals had a large say in whether or not they chose to scratch their Ind events for the proposed betterment of upcoming relays.

Andie R.
2 months ago

This news was quite a shock when I read it on our local news sites.

Before anything else, I am a Filipino swammer.

The thing here in the Philippines is, many of our sports federations tend to get foreign-born athletes with Filipino heritage to compete for us. I remember discussing this with my brother (also a swammer) and brother-in-law (non-swimmer) sometime during the Olympics last year, of how we were wasting our (limited) resources for these foreign-born athletes who just use this route to get to the Olympics (especially for swimming) because they couldn’t hack it in the US, etc. It’s a win for them because they compete for us while still retaining their foreign citizenship (Philippine law allows dual… Read more »

Lumangoy
Reply to  Andie R.
2 months ago

And the traffic, unless she will live next to a swimming pool!

I moved to the US to get away from the traffic! 1hr to school, 1hr to the pool, 1hr going home.

Nono
Reply to  Andie R.
2 months ago

I had to check multiple sources to make sure the news was legit (I first saw it on my Facebook feed).

This is a very bold move. The depth of Canada’s sprint free will most likely assure her of relay medals in future Olympics and World Championships. That is something she is walking away from. But perhaps that depth is also limiting her to shine individually.

Filipino-Aussie here btw. I don’t think there is any training facility in PH remotely close to Canada’s High Performance Centre.

I was thinking maybe she will train outside of PH after she completes the 6 month residency?
Our super elite athletes are mostly training in a competitive environment to be fair… Read more »

ScovaNotiaSwimmer
Reply to  Nono
2 months ago

She hasn’t even started uni yet. She was supposed to go to UBC but the Olympics delays and COVID and everything has disrupted the timing.
I wondered if she would establish an “official residence” in PHI but then go to UBC for school and train there and if that would count?

bob
2 months ago

Has she even been to the Philippines?There is no real quality place to train there.You can find a pool but the coaching is not up to par, she has nobody of her quality to train with.Cash grab I guess.Anyway she did good for Canada,the country where she was born and where she learned how to swims both parties should have no regrets.Living in the Philippines presents a host of problems.(I know,I lived there) but its a beautiful country.Good luck!

Steve Nolan
Reply to  bob
2 months ago

Ya I bet she hadn’t even heard of the Philippines before this. Good take.

Njones
Reply to  Steve Nolan
2 months ago

That’s completely unnecessary, unuseful, ignorant and disrespectful.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Njones
2 months ago

I think the guy asking “Has she even been to the Philippines?” was a bit more of those…four…things, but you do you.

(I assume she put a lot more thought into this move than “bob” was giving her credit for.)

njones
Reply to  Steve Nolan
2 months ago

Born in Singapore. Filippino parents. But yeah, she’s never ‘heard’ of the country.
Bob at least had a couple of ‘i wonder’ comments…

Mike Sanborn
Reply to  bob
2 months ago

She was born in Singapore to Filipino parents.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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