Filipinos all over the world are toasting and celebrating after the news broke out that a Filipino kid broke swimming sensation Michal Phelps’ twenty-three old record and rightly so because the kid from Salinas, California is himself a Filipino. Ten-year-old Clark Kent Apuada, the eldest of three brothers and also known as Superman kid on the pool in the new sensational kid that Filipinos all over, not just in the United States, and is now being heralded as the future swimming champion in the mold of his idol Phelps.
“It was my dream to beat that record since I was seven and since I have been researching some meet records when I was seven and that was my goal to beat it when I become ten. Now I am ten, I beat the record and I was really happy to beat the 23-year Far Western record the longest record that Michael Phelps has held. The next goal that I am looking forward to was beating the national age group record on the 100 m butterfly 1:05 (I still got a long way to go and I only have one meet left so I have to really strive to get that record), 50 backstroke or 100 backstroke,” Clark imparted.
Notwithstanding all the attention, however, Clark tries to stay humble and make sure to be composed and focus on swimming and studies when interviewed.
And when Michael Phelps did reach out to him on Twitter saying way to go!, “I was like Wow, whoa I didn’t know that Michael Phelps would tweet anything on social media. So that was amazing. I don’t have a twitter account so I was not able to tweet him back. I would tell him thank you and you’re such an inspiration to me.”
“To have an entire Philippines to be proud of me feels amazing because there are a lot of people supporting me and I would like to thank them and I am really grateful that and appreciative that they are supporting me,” Clark blurted out. “I am ok with this schedule and am not missing out. I feel like I am not being too pressured. I am ok with because if I feel like I am not being too pressured, it is okay to keep doing it.”
Clark also revealed that his ultimate goal is to make it to the Olympics in 2024 and 2028 and if he has the motivation and determination to make it to the Olympics, he can really to do that but not before reaching the pro level and after high school and college swimming.
“I would like to say that my coach Dia and Travis, my mom and dad, my brothers, my family and relatives in the Philippines are really my inspirations because they always support me and I am grateful and thankful for that. I really love them and want to say thank you,” Clark mentions. “I am not closing my door on the possibility to swim for the Philippines but there still a long way to go. I am only ten and that is a tough decision to make now. I will know when I get there.”
And to the youngsters like him, Clark advices to always prioritize your studies and if you have something, like a dream to pursue, then dream big and never give up on your dreams no matter what anybody else says.
Head coach of Monterey County Aquatic Team Dia Rianda always knew that Clark was on track to achieve his goals at that meet although Clark was not feeling very well the week before the meet that made them a bit worried.
“He took a few days off which is always scary before a big meet but it was more important that his health recovered. So he showed up at the meet and he ended having the lifetime best and won seven gold medals in seven events with the final event being the record of Michael Phelps. This is smashing the record of Phelps because it was better by more than a second,” a happy Rianda narrated.
And on Clark being a Filipino, Rianda has this to say.
“I think being a Filipino in this country is really important as it contributes a lot to what he is now. The culture of being a Filipino supports a hard work ethic, family values, and anything needed positive mindset. Most Filipinos I know are extremely positive, hardworking, and loving people,” Rianda explains. “And every time I have had the opportunity to coach a Filipino child, they’ve done great things n school, in swimming and in a variety of aspects in their lives because the culture develops, supports and lifts up not only their people but us as well. I feel like an honorary Filipino.”
Ria’s son and Clark’s other coach Travis Rianda thinks that the whirlwind of attention he is getting now after breaking an individual meet record is an amazing feat.
“Working with him is really fun. It is the best job that I had so far in my life and I have had a lot of jobs. He is incredible he works harder than anyone I have seen so far. I have a lot of hard workers in my team. He doesn’t stop even when his body is telling him to. His mind takes over and he keeps going and it is not because I am telling him to go or the sets are pushing him to go,” Travis asserts.
Clark’s parents, Chris and Cynthia Apuada, assure that they would be with Clark all the way no matter what.
“It has been our ultimate goal since we have seen his potentials. We are to give everything that we can to all our kids in order for them to thrive to do better. We want him to live his life to the fullest and feel no pressure at all. We just wanted him to enjoy whatever he is doing right now and that he’ll make sure that he continues the good things that he is doing at this point,” Mom Cynthia disclosed.
Dad Chris described Clark as a loving brother who always takes care of the younger ones. He plays with them when he has the time after training and the other activities for the day.
“As a son, he is very obedient, very respectful. And in school, he is always two years above grade level. He is always advance since pre-school up to now as a fifth-grader,” Chris exclaims.