Friday, February 29, 2008

Teofilo Yldefonso and Daniel Coakley (Grandfather and Grandson Tandem)

To all sports fanatics in the Philippines, you would have noticed that we have recently a renaissance of sorts in the sport of swimming. It proved again to be a gold mine for the Team Philippines in the recent South East Asian games despite the fact that the country has its WORST showing ever in the biennial meet.
Out of all the swimmers we have today, it is Daniel Coakley that is the most impressive. His best time is good for 8th place in the Olympics. To think he's only 17 and never had any weights training! Talk about some pure talent in there!
Long before the likes of Daniel Coakley and the rest of the Filipino swimmers, there was this one person who lorded over the Philippine swimming scene. Nicknamed as the Ilocano Shark, Teofilo Yldefonso is considered as the greatest Filipino swimmer in history. You read it right amigo, greatest in history.
He is best remembered for accomplishing two feats: being the first Filipino to win an Olympic medal and the only Filipino who won two Olympic medals. He won his first bronze medal at the 200m breaststroke event at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, and his second bronze at the same event at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
FYI, when I was making this post a while ago, I was really gonna be writing about Yldefonso and have Coakley as like a part of the intro. Never have i thought that Coakley is Yldefonso's grandson! Just amazing! Sweeeeet!

Daniel, show everyone what you're made of!

*Credits should be given to TanMan who originally owns the first photograph.

30 Responses to “Teofilo Yldefonso and Daniel Coakley (Grandfather and Grandson Tandem)”

MischMensch said...
March 3, 2008 at 6:07 PM

DANIEL ZANE KAILIKOA EUGENIO COAKLEY is kinda cute, I'd do him anytime maybe cos he looks so innocent

curbside_puppet said...
March 5, 2008 at 10:12 AM

you know daniel personally or just a random research you did? that would be so cool if you personally know him!

Anonymous said...
March 10, 2008 at 9:52 PM

An elder coakley was in the makati mission several years ago.

curbside_puppet said...
March 11, 2008 at 8:20 AM

Anonymous! Are you hinting to me that daniel might be a mormon? That would be awesome!

Anonymous said...
March 24, 2008 at 11:08 PM

This was from a newsletter about Daniel entitled WITH the BIG BOYS

Feb. 2008 - Daniel was sitting alone, relaxing in the Jacuzzi after the Missouri Grand Prix swim meet.
Four guys who “look like American Gladiators” joined him in the tub. He recognized them as top USA Legends: Michael Phelps, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker and Ryan Lochte. National, Olympic and World record holders! They nodded a friendly greeting.

Daniel knew that a PHI team member swam with Ryan in college, so he asked about JB Walsh. They started talking, then Michael Phelps joined in, and soon Daniel was talking to all these guys.
“That was pretty cool,” he said.

Their height, built and fame were intimidating, but after relaxing in the Jacuzzi, it was okay.
"I’m not intimidated," Daniel laughed. NO FEAR!

[Go to and send a note to get updates on him.]

curbside_puppet said...
March 26, 2008 at 6:28 PM

that's amazing anonymous! you keep on informing me with interesting tidbits!

Anonymous said...
March 30, 2008 at 12:38 AM

Is there any information about who Coakley's parents are? Because my mother is actually the grandaughter of Teofilo which makes Teofilo my great grandfather. Any information would be great. Thanks.

curbside_puppet said...
March 31, 2008 at 11:52 AM

unfortunately anonymous, my knowledge about him ends with his being an amazing swimmer! sorry! but i do wanna help you out. any e-mail ad i can use to contact you?

aloha said...
March 31, 2008 at 10:36 PM

Thank you for your blog as it has brought the direct descendants of Teofilo Yldefonso to light. Anonymous got in touch with me through

As a genealogy-minded family, I must admit that we are not direct descendants of Teofilo Yldefonso, though it would be an honor to be related to him.

Daniel’s relation to Teofilo has reached legendary proportions, especially after the SEA Games. I tried to correct it, but the myth continues to grow. A newspaper in Hawaii did an article on Daniel. The reporter had read about the Yldefonso relationship from the Philippine papers.

I explained our genealogy line and the confusion, but when the story came out, Daniel was again touted as Teofilo’s great-grandson. I’ve just about given up trying to dispel the myth. It seems as if the Teofilo–Daniel connection is as Daniel said, “meant to be”.

People have been getting in touch with us about Teofilo so we have been trying to help find his direct descendants. Maybe that’s our role… to be a central contact for the Yldefonso descendants. It’s great that it’s the young set who want to know about their ancestry.

The Philippine Hall of Fame is being developed and Teofilo will be one of the foremost athletes honored.

From what I gather, Teofilo is not only an Olympic inspiration, but he sacrificed his life as a Philippine Scout who was taken as a POW in the Bataan Death March. He later died in a Concentration camp. He represents the commoner who rises up from the Ilocos region to represent the Philippines and its people, then lay down his life for his country and loved ones. What a noble life!

curbside_puppet said...
April 3, 2008 at 10:14 AM

aloha! i feel humbled by your comment. i hope my blog would be a vehicle of sorts to help the direct descendants of mr. yldefonso come together. i'm in no way related to him, but he makes me feel proud. he's a real-life hero, having sacrificed his life for the sake of the country.
anyhew, i felt somewhat confused about the real connection between daniel and mr yldefonso. are they or aren't they related by blood line?
whatever the real score is, both are making the country proud.
thank you aloha for making me "feel" like i'm a part of your "ohana".

Shark-o said...
May 7, 2008 at 11:44 PM


Here's an interesting bit about Teofilo Yldefonso that I learned while doing my swim caochng education at the Hungarian University of Physical Education in Budapest. It turns out that "Apo" (he that controls the flow of water, literally) Teofilo Yldefonso is considered as "The Father of the Modern Breaststroke"! Don't say, so what! He also happens to be the only Filipino double Olympic medallist in history.

Anyway.... this may be a bit difficult to explain without photos but try and use your imagination okay? Before Teofilo, the breaststroke was swum in a very awkward manner. Not very hydro-dynamic. Most of your body and head was underwater, creating lots of drag and requiring you to hold your breath for unnaturally long periods of time.

But at the 1932 Olympics, Teofilo Yldefonso blew everyone's mind when he competed using the style of breaststroke you see all swimmers doing today. As I was listening to a lecture one day on the evolution of the swimming strokes, my professor brought this up and showed us the book (in Hungarian) with Teofilo's photo and an analysis of his stroke technique.

To top it all, we saw an underwater video they made of him right after the '32 Olympic Games. You are probably thinking I've lost my marbles right? As in, how did they get underwater footage of the "Ilocano Shark" if cameras had just been invented? Charlie Chaplin maybe, but doing underwater shots of an "Ilocano Shark". Something special and historic must have been obvious.

OK, so the simple way to do underwater videos then (it still works now) was like this: they put an aquarium in the water but did not let water enter it. Rather they had the camera upside down and walked along side pushing the floating aquarium and camera, as he swam. Let me tell you, I've been involved in swimming all my life, and never heard a peep about Teofilo Yldefonso being the Father of the Modern Breaststroke, but I sure was proud to see that footage.

Okay, so some six months later I'm back in Manila just walked in the back door kitchen from the airport, and the phone rings. Instinctively, I answered the phone and it was a Spanish swimming coach working on his Masteral Degree in Barcelona and of all things, can you imagine what he asked me? Please give me all the material you have in the Philippines about The Father of the Modern Breaststroke! He was writing his thesis on the evolution of the breaststroke, and using the exact same words to describe Teofilo's stroke as the Hungarians (who by the way have never missed an Olympic Games, or come home without a gold medal or six).

Ever watch the Twilight Zone? Well, that's the Philippines for you. Truth is stranger than fiction. Believe me! Anyway, I was able to give the Spaniard the references he needed and directed him to the Archive of International Sports Videography in Germany so he could get a copy of the video we were presented.

Twelve years Piddig, Ilocos Norte a few months ago - the hometown on Teofilo Yldefonso, I began doing some rough research on this Filipino hero. I found some elderly ladies that remembered him. They had all sorts of comments and said that for the most part, he was a good looking guy and knew it. While they'd be washing their clothes by the river every afternoon, there was Teofilo "practicing". He would swim against the current coming off rocks, where the lovely ladies would be sitting, and he would spend hours doing his breaststroke, while chatting the ladies up.

Try it: swim against the current of a river, while talking to some pretty girls sitting by the water (washing their clothes, or doing whatever). I guarantee you - the oly stroke you will be able to do is what is now known as The Modern Breaststroke. Keeping your head and body high, pulling and kicking at exactly the right time - all to make sure that the current doesn't push you too far away from a pretty girl you may be courting or trying to impress.

Oh, and don't forget - either keeping your handsome face out of the water the whole time (not done in competition before) or for most of the time by exhaling (instead of holding your breath) every so often underwater water! And there you have it - you doing it, a snapshot of how swimming history was made by a true champion, ladies man, innovator, soldier and hero.

Everywhere in the world today, millions of people are swimming breaststroke the way Teofilo Yldefonso did it. And they don't really know why. Except it feels good and its the fastest way to race.

Old swimmers never die. They don't even fade away. Teofilo Yldefonso is proving that. Soon, he will be enshrined at the International Hall of Fame in Florida alongside other swimmers like Mark Spitz, John Naber, Michel Gross, Ian Thorpe and Shayne Gould.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinong Manlalangoy! At Magyabang na rin tayo paminsan-minsan.

aloha said...
May 8, 2008 at 6:29 AM

Thank you Shark-O! What an exciting, interesting and uplifting revelation!

Back in early 2005, before Daniel had any connection with Philippine Swimming, I googled "Filipino swimmers" and Teofilo Yldefonso's name came up as an Olympian.

But nothing more was written about Teofilo. I tried to find info, but didn't know where to start. His name haunted me as Yldefonso was my father's grandmother's maiden name. In late 2005 after Daniel's Philippine swim, Daniel was being linked to Teofilo. (Daniel is not a direct descendant of Teofilo. My father was born the same year as Teofilo,1903, and it is possible that they may be of the same root in Ilocos Norte.)

Teofilo was a ghost. Only his name and the accomplishment of his 2X Olympic Bronze was written about him. Who was this man?

In 2006, Teofilo was honored in his hometown, and fortunately some of his children in the US were able to attend and could tell his story. An honor long overdue. Then other info started appearing on blogs about Teofilo's life, and a personality began to emerge.

Now this revelation of him being the Father of Modern Breaststroke, WOW! Teofilo, an innovator of historic and international proportion! His technique has developed Gold medalists through generations throughout the world.

This is greater than his Olympic Bronze medals, as there are thousands of Olympic medalists, but few who can claim "Fatherhood" of a technique.

Pinoy Pride! My heart is just bursting with pride for this man who is finally being recognized as an innovator and true hero!

Thank you Shark-o and curbside_ puppet for providing this informative blog.


curbside_puppet said...
May 8, 2008 at 10:58 AM

ALOHA AND SHARK-O: wow, i never knew how important teofilo yldefonso is until now! thanks for your comments and i genuinely feel humbled by your insights.

we're all one big ohana!

Anonymous said...
July 10, 2008 at 12:11 PM

This clip on Daniel came out on youtube, July, 2008.

Anonymous said...
August 9, 2008 at 2:31 PM

I came across your blog and I want to correct some facts that you have about my grandfather. I am Elizabeth Arganda, daughter of Norma Yldefonzo, the 4th of seven children of Teofilo and Manuela Yldefonzo. Throughout the years, the spelling of Yldefonzo has been mispelled. The correct spelling is with a "Z' rather than an "s". His year of birth is 1902, not 1903. There are some errors on Wikipedia that also need to be corrected. Teofilo went to Olympics three times; 1928, 1932, and 1936. During the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he came in 7th place. My mother Norma, was in the 1954 Asian Games simming competition and placed second on the 100m butterfly. I myself was a swimming athlete at the Philippine Normal College from 1978-1982. Then shortly after graduating from the PNC the family moved to the US.

curbside_puppet said...
August 11, 2008 at 10:48 PM

miss arganda,

well, it was an honor to hear from an yldefonzo descendant. don't worry, i'll have the wikipedia account edited as soon as possible.

thanks for all the information, even your mother was a swimmer!

Anonymous said...
August 15, 2008 at 7:23 AM

aloha..i am daniel's aka kailikoa cousin from his fathers side. His father and my mother are siblings. I had the privlidge of growing up with him along with the rest of our family and he is one of a kind!! and i am exceptionally proud to have him be in the olympics. He is like my brother to me.


curbside_puppet said...
August 15, 2008 at 11:09 PM

'A'ole pilikia!

Wow, its really cool to hear from a member of Daniel's ohana!

Please do visit the blog often and i hope daniel would get to see this.

Even filipino friends from laie (they work at the polynesian cultural center in byu) are proud of him! they were like, "yeah! we know that fil-am boy from kohala!"

this is crazy man! i'm happy to hear from you (although leaving yor name here would be nicer).

i'm actually friends with daniel on facebook. my latest shoutout was between brian harries' and mark carrasco's facebook wall messages.

this is really cool!


Anonymous said...
August 23, 2008 at 9:48 PM

hi im michael yldefonso the grandson of teofilo yldefonso

curbside_puppet said...
August 26, 2008 at 10:00 PM

hi michael, it was nice to hear from you!

i hope i was able to make your family a little bit more proud of your amazing grandfather!

mabagani said...
September 13, 2008 at 2:45 AM

Can anyone post pics of Teofilo Yldefonso? portrait and image of him swimming? and his monument in Ilocos? Great info...thanks. I'd like to check out the windmills and monument sometime. My parents are from Laoag and Pasuquin.

Curbside Puppet said...
September 13, 2008 at 3:34 AM


thanks for your comment! unfortunately, i don't have any teofilo yldefonso pictures.

aloha said...
June 9, 2009 at 4:03 AM

Aloha Everyone,

The Chief Executive of the International Swimming Hall of Fame contacted Daniel about Teofilo. Teofilo Yldefonso has been up for selection as a Hall of Famer for at least 10 years, but always falls short. He says that he thinks the problem is in telling the story.

Although we are not a direct lineage of Teofilo's, through Daniel's website and blogs like this, some of Teofilo's true grandchildren have contacted us and we're e-pals.

This website provides important information critical in writing Teofilo's story. "Shark-o" has amazing first-hand information. Can we get your real name and use your information?

Teofilo descendants, can you tell what you know, pictures you have, etc.

Teofilo needs to be recognized as an International Hall of Famer. He was well-loved and respected by his peers and competitors. He represented his country with honor and died for his country... but it is said that his body was never found.

He needs to be recognized, his fame and honor resurrected, not only for the Filipinos to take pride in, but for the world to honor him as the Father of the Modern Breaststroke.

Let's put this together!!!
Shark-o and Teofilo descendants,
Write your story, your genealogy.
As a genealogy family, we feel that the true descendants should be recognized.

Please contact me:
Lani Eugenio Coakley:

Curbside Puppet, please contact me.
We may be stopping in the PHI in Dec.

Aloha, Lani

tisoy21 said...
May 7, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Tell me who is your ancestor and i will let you know if you are related to Teofilo D. Yldefonzo and his ancestor....

Anonymous said...
June 18, 2010 at 8:54 PM

Porfirio Yldefonso

Anonymous said...
June 19, 2010 at 1:46 PM

First child Mr and Mrs. Teofilo Yldefonzo;;;;;;; Swimmer and retired PAF

AlleRey03 said...
December 26, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Teofilo Yldefonzo is my Great-Grandfather. His eldest daughter, Norma Yldefonzo Arganda is my grandmother. Daniel Coakley is in NO WAY related to us and his piggy-backing off my great-grandfather's success is rather frustrating. My great-grandfather worked hard for his success and accomplishments, and is a hero. His family is extremely proud of him. While Daniel did okay in the Olympics, our family would like people to keep in mind that Teofilo and Daniel have different legacies. I am proud to be the great-granddaughter of a Philippine hero.

Jerick said...
December 26, 2011 at 5:20 PM

hi allerey,

first off, i don't think the coakleys CLAIM that. and i think you should have thanked them, if you really were a part of the family cos Lani Coakley, Daniel's mom, helped bring back the family (the Yldefonzos) together in some way. in fact, the coakleys and the yldefonzos from San Francisco are great friends. i thought it was ungrateful of you to say that.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...
July 10, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Ew, perv.

Anonymous said...
July 10, 2012 at 3:49 PM

That's funny that you think you know so much about the YLDFONZO family.... Especially bc you're referring to the ILDEFONZOs of San Francisco... The ILDEFONZOs are the nieces & nephews and my great-grandfather.... My grandma is the last Yldefonzo of Teofilio's children & she doesn't live in California.... Check your facts.

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