Akiko Thomson-Guevera continues to provide again to the sports activities world, years after hanging up her goggles.
An iconic determine within the Philippines and past, the Cal girls’s swimming alumna and three-time Olympian enjoys serving to the following era of athletes obtain its goals. She is at the moment the president of the Philippine Olympians Affiliation and was additionally a TV host and journalist for seven years of her post-swimming life.
Born Gillian Akiko Nakamura Thomson, she was certainly one of three youngsters of Hiroko Nakamura, her Japanese mom, and James Marsh Thomson, her white, American father, in Washington, D.C., in 1974. Her mother and father gave her the center title of Akiko – which implies “Autumn’s Baby” – partly as a result of she was born in October, and it wound up turning into her given title.
Her father had been stationed on the U.S. Naval Base in Subic Bay within the Philippines within the Nineteen Sixties, and he introduced his household again with him within the Seventies when he turned the director of the nation’s Peace Corps. The youngest Thomson, who started swimming on the age of 6, turned a naturalized citizen of the Philippines at age 12 because of a presidential decree. She has twin citizenship with the US.
Quick ahead to the early Nineteen Nineties, when Akiko Thomson began her school profession alongside one other notable first-year Golden Bear.
“I at all times joke we had been freshmen collectively,” Cal head coach Teri McKeever mentioned.
Thomson was a member of the primary Cal girls’s swimming workforce coached by McKeever in 1993. By that time, the completed athlete had already competed within the 1988 Olympics in Seoul on the age of 13, and within the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona – swimming within the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and the 100- and 200-meter backstrokes in each competitions.
She is probably the most embellished Filipina to swim within the Southeast Asian (SEA) Video games, successful eight gold medals and 4 silvers from 1987-1993.
Thomson went on to earn the Most Improved Award for the Bears in 1994, when she was named an All-American for the primary time. She garnered All-America honors once more in 1996. That was a giant 12 months for Thomson, who additionally competed within the Atlanta Olympics, swimming the 50 free, 100 and 200 again, and 200 particular person medley.
However 1996 additionally marked the tip of an period, because the 21-year-old retired from aggressive swimming.
“I used to be younger, however it was my third Olympics, and I used to be prepared to maneuver on and take a look at new issues,” she mentioned.
Whereas she majored in anthropology at Cal, she additionally took a number of theater lessons and loved performing, which led her to work in tv again dwelling. She hosted a sports activities present after which transitioned to a journalist position on an investigative-type present referred to as “Probe.”
“I actually loved that,” she mentioned. “Quickly after I used to be invited by the Philippine Sports activities Fee to be certainly one of their commissioners. However that was the very last thing on my thoughts. Upon reflecting about it and speaking to my dad about it, I noticed what a beautiful alternative it was.”
She spent eight years with the PSC in a rewarding position that gave her certainly one of her first alternatives to work with different sports activities apart from swimming.
In 2009, she made time to marry and, with husband Chips Guevera, begin a household, together with sons, Noah, 10, Elijah, 8, and daughter Sachiko, 4. In 2011, she based the Akiko Thomson Swim College, which is at the moment closed as a result of pandemic.
The busy Thomson-Guevera additionally turned the president of the Philippine Olympians Affiliation in 2015.
“Initially I used to be scared, as a result of it wasn’t one thing I aspired for, however it’s been nice,” she mentioned. “It is a whole lot of work.”
The POA works underneath the umbrella of the World Olympians Affiliation, incomes WOA grants to run its numerous applications, together with getting Filipino athletes to work with deprived youth.
“It has been significant work,” Thomson-Guevera mentioned. “We have partnered with an NGO referred to as ChildHope Philippines, which focuses on avenue youngsters in metro Manila. It began off as a few clinics, after which we ended up working it for 2 years. We would get Olympians and generally non-Olympians collectively as soon as a month, and we would feed the youngsters and provides them a clinic the place they’d follow basketball, badminton and taekwondo.
“Now we have assorted actions. We uphold the Olympic values and we attempt to encourage our Olympians to stay concerned and be position fashions. Final 12 months we did some work with psychological wellness periods for our athletes. One space that we need to deal with sooner or later helps our athletes make the transition to life after sports activities.”
She added, “Giving again is one thing I realized from my father. He was at all times concerned in the neighborhood round him. At all times a part of, at all times contributing for the nice.”
Thomson-Guevera additionally took the time to take part in one other Summer time Olympics as a volunteer information on the 2004 Athens Video games.
She likewise provides again to her alma mater when time and distance allow. She has contributed to a good-luck video for the Cal workforce and has spoken to youthful Bears about her many worldwide experiences. In 2017, she trekked again to Berkeley to hitch the celebration of McKeever’s twenty fifth 12 months as Cal’s head coach.
In current months, Thomson-Guevera participated in Zoom occasions with different Cal alumnae and supporters of this system.
“I’m ever grateful for the schooling I acquired at Cal and for the coaches that made my collegiate expertise one I look again at fondly,” Thomson-Guevera mentioned. “One among my best accomplishments is retiring from the game whereas nonetheless enthusiastic about it. I had misplaced the eagerness someplace alongside the best way and was able to retire prematurely. However due to clever counsel and changes made in my coaching that helped me rediscover pleasure and enjoyable, I am grateful I stayed on and ended up being co-captain my senior 12 months.”
“What I take into consideration once I consider Akiko is a younger girl with such a fantastic coronary heart who’s so giving,” McKeever mentioned. “I at all times keep in mind her capacity to encourage different folks, care about folks and be an excellent listener. Here is somebody who graduated 25 years in the past and nonetheless follows what you are doing and is keen to provide her time and power to assist you. That is an superior instance for our present workforce.”