BENCH MEETS Johan Aguilar

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Jeans by BENCH
Photography by Kimi Juan
Grooming by Byron Velasquez for MAC
Shot on location at the Privato Hotel rooftop pool

By Marga Buenaventura

Despite his boyish good looks and easy charm, Johan Aguilar isn’t just about looking pretty in swim trunks. Defying the jock stereotype, the 21 year-old water bum took on school, swimming, and the rest of his life, really, like a champ.

Not only did he graduate magna cum laude in university, he was also awarded swimming MVP three times by the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). Beyond breaking collegiate swimming records, Johan holds the Philippine record in the men’s 50-meter backstroke at 27.29 seconds.

While there’s no slowing this guy down, B/BLOG convinced Johan to stop and take a dip in the Privato Hotel’s swanky new pool. Amid wet and wild antics, he talks about night swimming, Olympic dreams, and the truth behind shrinkage.

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Hey, Johan. What have you been busy with lately?

I just started in the corporate world. I’m part of the management trainee program at Nestle. But after work, I still find time to go to the gym and swim.

Do you still get to swim professionally?

Ah, yeah. I still get to swim with my club, the Makati Skipjacks, but not as rigidly as before. The last competition I joined for the Philippines was the SEA (Southeast Asian) Games last December. Then I joined Nationals in the last week of July. So now, we’ll just see what happens kasi when you’re part of the national pool, there will always be competitions. It’s really an open book as of now.

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Hooded vest & jeans by BENCH

What about the Olympics? Have you ever thought of joining?

(Laughs) Well, I think it’s always a dream. Pero yun nga, that’s why I’m really thinking of what career path to pursue. Siyempre, if you want to go corporate, then you’re letting go the Olympic dream. You can’t really do two things at once. If you really want to become an Olympian, you need super rigid training. And lately, I’ve been thinking about it—the Olympic path or the corporate path. Even starting my own business… [The Olympics] is still in 2016 but you have to think as early as now. The qualifying times for the Olympics are really hard, so you really have to train for it.

What’s your stroke of choice?

I do backstroke. It’s a long story, but my coach saw that I’ve been winning backstroke events, so I decided to focus on backstroke. And when I go out to compete internationally, that’s what I use.

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What’s the secret to a good backstroke?

Preferably you should have big arms and big feet. Of course, kailangan technique rin sa backstroke. Best technique is to swim from side to side to reduce drag.

Swimming is serious business for you. But have you ever had a crazy pool party?

Usually after the UAAP, everyone throws themselves in the pool with all their clothes on. You drag everyone in after the awarding ceremonies. It’s the funniest thing, because if you’re not the champions—winners or losers—everyone gets in. Even the coaches. It’s a good way to end a meet.

When’s the perfect time to swim?

I’m used to swimming after school or after work, so that’s 5:30 to 8. After a stressful day, swimming is the perfect way to unwind. Lalo na sakin, if I don’t swim, parang may kulang. Because I swim backstroke din, it’s more irritating to swim facing the sun.

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Have you ever gone night swimming with a girl?

Night swimming with a girl… Aside from teammates, wala pa naman. The people I’ve dated don’t know how to swim kasi eh. (Laughs) It’s not their thing, I don’t know why. Weird. It’s usually road trip, malls, or movies. They know I’m a swimmer but they themselves aren’t into swimming. Unless I’ve dated a swimmer na girl, which wala pa naman. (Laughs)

Is it true what they say about shrinkage after swimming? Do you and your teammates joke about it?

My teammates and I don’t talk about it, actually. If it’s true, you just keep it to yourself. (Laughs)

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