Swimming in Singapore has been very interesting and exciting for us. In so many ways Singapore Swimming is similiar to USA Swimming, but then in so many ways, completely different. Adjusting to swimming in Singapore has been a big stressor to our family, as so much of our lives revolve around swimming. All three of our kids have been competitive swimmers, since the age of 9. That’s that last six years. We spend hours at the practice pool, long weekends at meets. We invest our money into swim gear, team fees, traveling fees. We choose to do this because our kids love to compete in the water.
The biggest difference that we have found is that in the USA, there are competitions just about every weekend. We used to compete at least twice a month, sometimes more. Our family believes that you need to compete regularly, in big meets, and in the little ones as well. This gives you the experience you need, diving off the blocks, turns, pacing, it gives you the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.
In Singapore, there is only ONE meet a year that counts. The Singapore National Age Group championship. SNAGs. When we first landed in Singapore back in August, we were told about this meet, and thought, great! We love championship meets! Looking forward to it!! But we didn’t realize that this was THE ONLY MEET of the year.
We were really confused, and it took us a little while to learn, to figure out how things are done in Singapore. Our first learning experiences were when our swim club was participated in a couple “Invitational Meets” hosted by other swim clubs here in Sing. Of course we wanted in!! We had to learn that these little invite meets that don’t count because there are no officials, no touch pads, and the coaches don’t even attend. That was shocking to me, I just couldn’t believe that a coach wouldn’t go to a meet. But that also made me realize why my boys were the only two representing their team. Why bother to go to a meet where your coaches don’t even bother to go? Where your times don’t count? Where your teammates don’t go? There’s no team bonding, no times recorded, no feedback from coaches. It’s a day in the hot sun. For nothing.
But that’s not how my family thinks, we believe that every meet counts, every race counts. We gain experience each time. So we continued to participate at the small invite meets, alone. I would film the races, upload to youtube, and have our coaches back in the states take a look at the videos.
So finally, the SNAG meet hype begins to build, in January. The kids are getting excited, the parents excited, the coaches excited. There are two meets that lead up to SNAGs, the “Time Trial Meets” where the kids swim to get their qualifying times. Son #1 and Son #2 both swam in the Time Trials, and then only Son #1 competed in SNAGs. Son #2 could not swim, even though he was fully qualified, because of his broken nose.
What was really shocking to me, is that the coaches didn’t attend the Time Trials meet in January. In my mind, I was thinking, ok, we finally have officials, times are going to count. Coaches will be here, to coach the kids, watch them race, give them feedback on performance.
Nope, no coaches attended. As you can imagine, now I am losing my mind. But this is how it is done here in Singapore, at least with the team we have chosen to train with while living here. This is how they do things. It’s different from what we are used to, like so many aspects of our lives now that we are living in Asia. I tell my kids, over and over, “this is different, not bad.” It’s become my mantra, our motto.
So with some back and forth between myself and our USA coaches, a better understanding of how they do things, and they have a better understanding of our expectations. We met somewhere in between, coaches attended part of the Time Trial meet in February, and life continues smoothly here in Singapore for us.
For the SNAG meet, with special permission from USA Swimming, Son #1 was able to represent his home club from Hudson Wisconsin. This was so that his times could be counted and recorded in the USA Swimming database, which was important for Son #1 because he has been hoping to achieve more Speedo Sectional time cuts.
Son #1, who only turned 13 in January, was competing in the boys 13 & 14 age group, had 9 events through the course of the five day meet, so between prelims and finals, he swam 15 times. He had personal best times in 11 of the swims, including taking 1st place wins in the 200 meter Individual Medley with a time of 2:14:02, the 100 meter Backstroke with a time of 1:01.87, and the 200 meter Backstroke with a time of 2:16.31. He also took a 2nd place finish in the 200 Breaststroke, a 3rd place in the 100 Freestyle, a 4th place in the 400IM, a 5th in the 100 Breaststroke, a 6th in the 200 Freestyle, and a 7th in the 400 Freestyle.
Not only did he have a good experience competing in Singapore, but he also made a lot of new friends, and really enjoyed hanging out with his Singapore teammates. A couple of the Swimfast kids broke Singapore National records at this meet, and it was really exciting to cheer on these kids and celebrate with their families. We were so honored to watch our new friends, Jing-E, Michael, and Darren break Singapore National Records!! It was so exciting!!
These kids train hard all year long, swim at 5:30 am before school and then return at 4 pm after school. They get up early on Saturday to train, and their coaches put in long hours as well. They are remarkable, dedicated to the sport of competitive swimming, and we are thrilled to be part of their team while we live in Singapore! Thank you Swimfast Aquatics for accepting us into your swim family!!