Teofilo Yldefonzo

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Teofilo Yldefonzo (born 5 November 1903 - died June 19, 1942), (also spelled as Teofilo Yldefonso) known as the "Ilocano Shark" because of his aquatic skills, was a Filipino Olympian considered as the greatest swimmer of the Philippines, and among the greatest Filipino athletes in Philippine sports history. He is the first Filipino to win an Olympic medal and is the only Filipino Olympic multiple medalist.

Early life and swimming career

Yldefonzo was born in Piddig, Ilocos Norte and at a very young age, he honed his swimming skills in the rivers of his hometown. He started his swimming career at the age of 18 and has collected a total of 144 medals.

He won his first Olympic bronze medal in the 200 meter breastroke event of the swimming competitions at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His bronze medal-winning time was 2 minutes and 54.4 seconds. On the way to the final heat, Yldefonso broke the Olympic record in the semifinals by clocking at 2 minutes and 48.8 seconds.

Yldefonzo won another bronze medal in the same event at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA, with a time of 2 minutes and 47.1 seconds, a marked improvement over his previous Olympic Games record. He placed seventh in his final Olympic appearance in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

Family

Yldefonzo was married to Manuela Ella in 1928. They had six children--Porfirio, Emilio, Felipe, Norma, Herminia and Carmelito. Norma Yldefonzo followed her father's footstep by being a champion swimmer, winning the silver medal in the 100 meter butterfly in the 1954 Second Asian Games in Manila.

Death

Yldefonzo also served the Philippines as a soldier during the Second World War and perished in the Capas concentration camp as a prisoner by the Japanese imperial army. His remains were never found.

Legacy

Yldefonzo is considered as the "Father of the Modern Breastroke" as he was the first known swimmer to employ the breaststroke technique that is commonly used today. He was hailed as a hero in his hometown, with his statue erected on 14 February 2006. In 2009, he was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Reference