You could say that SEA Games medalist Jasmine Alkhaldi didn’t have the best start as a swimmer. “I was two and a half when I saw a swimming pool and just jumped in. Then I drowned,” is how she always recalls it. Yet, she still kept coming back after that: “I think it was mainly because I loved the water. From then on, my parents said that I had to learn to swim, just so I wouldn’t drown.”
The basics, once they came to her, were no sweat from there. Over three years, Jasmine progressed from learning basic water safety as a toddler, to picking up all four strokes in one summer, to swimming her very first competition with a team at five years old.
A year later, at six, Jasmine asked her coach a question that changed her life: "What’s the highest goal I could reach for in swimming?” He said, “If you make it to the Olympics, that’s the toughest one, that’s the best one.”
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“Since then, it was in my heart that I wanted to do that,” says Jasmine. “As I got older, I realized how hard it was, that it would take a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifices, but it was still in my heart to at least try.” The passion she had for this goal and all the work she put into it would pay off soon enough: at nineteen years old, Jasmine managed to qualify for the 2012 London Summer Olympics, and she did so again four years later at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“When I saw the Olympic stadium, I got goosebumps everywhere, and I peed a little bit,” Jasmine says, laughing. “It’s because my whole life led to that moment. It started as a dream that was always in my heart, and I just said ‘Wow, I’m here. Where do I go from here?’”
Even with a competition of that caliber under her belt, however, Jasmine didn't want to underplay the different challenges she faced in the leadup to the SEA Games. Complications were getting in the way of her performance, and at some points of it, she seriously considered quitting. Luckily enough, she soon realized that “it was such a shallow thing to end (her) career on.”
“I was very unmotivated to train with everything going on around,” Jasmine recalls. “I can’t be prouder when I think that I was able to go to the SEA Games and focus on what I had to do even with all of that. Going through all of that, and still being able to do it—that’s my biggest achievement now.” More than that, Jasmine managed to swim her way to breaking Philippine speed records three times over during the SEA Games, coming home with medals in every event she competed in as well.
Looking toward the future, Jasmine only has one goal for her career: to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In life, however, she wants to become something more than just a swimmer. She remembers meeting Olympic swimmer Akiko Thomson when she was younger, and Akiko has since then “been a supporting voice through the years, someone who I could look up to and think, ‘If she could do it, I can too!”
Being that kind of an inspiration has been a passion project of hers for a while now. “With someone of her caliber talking to someone like me at eleven and inspiring me to dream big, it made me want to try. That was one of the things I wanted to carry on," Jasmine says.
With that as a goal, Jasmine has made it her passion to “go to different provinces and help swimmers with their technique, try to inspire them to reach their dreams. Kids in the province can feel so far-removed from their dreams that they don’t even want to dream them. I want them to go for bigger things, like to look past Palarong Pambansa and make the national team, or even the Olympics. Swimming has opened my world to so many things, and I want more people to feel and experience what I experienced in my career.”
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On Jasmine: Sports bra and leggings, both adidas
Produced by Camille Santiago | Photography by Vyn Radovan | Grooming by Muriel Vega Perez and Team MVP | Hair by Francis Guintu of Aveda Philippines | Styling by Aldrin Ramos. Acknowledgements WeWork Philippines, Aveda, and Teriyaki Boy | Shot on location at WeWork Philippines, Menarco Tower, BGC