“[Pangilinan’s] performance overseas was phenomenal,” junior co-captain Jessica Davidson said. “We can’t wait to have her back and to see what she can do.”
The undefeated Harvard women’s swimming and diving team has already competed in five meets this season, but Pangilinan has only participated in one. After sitting out with an injury, Pangilinan then shipped out to participate in the Southeast Asian Games.
“It was so hard for me to miss [the Kansas meet] because last year it was a time when a lot of people really stepped up and the team comes together,” Pangilinan said. “It was really hard not to be there.”
Pangilinan’s only swim with the team came in the Crimson’s meet against Columbia almost a month ago. She swam the second leg of the winning 400-yard medley relay, took second in the 200-yard individual medley, and won her signature event, the 200-yard breaststroke.
“We were all excited for her to go to the Southeast Asian Games,” Davidson said. “But we also knew that someone else would step up and do a good job.”
Against the Lions, Pangilinan rounded into form for the big weekend to come at the 23rd Southeast Asian Games.
Pangilinan, whose father is from the Philippines, competed for her father’s home nation and made both her country and her family proud.
“They had [the SEA Games] my senior year of high school,” Pangilinan said. “My dad found out about it and told me it was my chance. I don’t know why but I wasn’t ready to do it then.”
The games were held in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and ran from Nov. 20 to Dec. 5 with the swimming events, in which Pangilinan competed, taking place Nov. 29–Dec. 3.
Pangilinan medaled in both the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke. She swam the 100-meter breaststroke first and claimed a bronze medal in the event with a time of 1:12.73.
Bronze was not good enough for the ferocious competitor in Pangilinan as she determined to do better in her second event. Pangilinan competed in the 200-meter breaststroke later in the Games and bested her first result with a silver-medal performance. She touched the wall with a time of 2:35.58.
“I was out of the water for three weeks so I basically got in a week before and then competed,” Pangilinan said. “I wanted to win and I ended up getting silver and that was the best I could do given the circumstances.”
Pangilinan holds the Crimson school records for both breaststroke events in Harvard’s yard pool and the Philippine national records in a meter pool.
The Philippines, with Pangilinan’s help, was able to win the Games, earning a total of 291 medals. No stranger to international competition, Pangilinan also raced in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke for the Philippines in the 2004 Olympic Games and picked up a 20th-place finish in the 200-meter event.
—ABIGAIL M. BAIRD