National swimmer Amanda Lim turns to social media to locate young fan; finds her in less than a day

Amanda Lim celebrates after winning the 50m freestyle at the SEA Games 2017.
Amanda Lim celebrates after winning the 50m freestyle at the SEA Games 2017.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - National swimmer Amanda Lim had missed out a young fan who ran down the stands at Kuala Lumpur's National Aquatic Centre, to greet her on Saturday (Aug 26), so she turned to social media for help to find the girl.

She put up a Facebook post on Monday evening and managed to get in touch with the fan, eight-year-old Caitlin Chan, by Tuesday morning.

The 24-year-old had won the 50m freestyle race at the SEA Games and was waving to her family to thank them for their support.

"It must be all the elation I was feeling that somehow clouded me from seeing anyone else other than my family from the crowd," she said in her post.

In her post, Lim apologised to Caitlin for not noticing her, and asked social media users to help find her so she could send a SEA Games mascot to her "as a gesture of appreciation and apology for not seeing her that night".

She updated the post on Tuesday, saying she had identified Caitlin. "I will be doing my due diligence once I get back from my holiday!"

Lim told The Straits Times from the Maldives where she is now on vacation: "Within an hour after posting, I found the girl. It turns out that she is being coached by two of my friends at an international school, Siow Yiting (former Malaysian breaststroker) and Eileen Leung (former Malaysian freestylist), so they texted me and gave me the girl's mother's contact."

She added: "After I disembarked from the plane and managed to get Wi-Fi, I realised this whole thing kinda exploded, more than a thousand shares and insane views."

Caitlin's mother Weng Shin-yi, 42, told The Straits Times that it was "heartwarming" that a champion swimmer like Lim would take the effort to reach out to a young fan like this.

"I think it's just a sweet thing. She (Lim) didn't have to do this, but she decided to reach out to a little girl and make her day," said Ms Weng.

Caitlin, who has an elder brother who is 12 years old, is also a swimmer and aspires to be successful like Lim when she grows up, according to Ms Weng.

The family of Singaporeans is based in Kuala Lumpur as Caitlin's father works in the food industry there.

They had gone to watch the SEA Games swimming competition as Caitlin is interested in swimming.

"Caitlin said she wanted to go down to say 'Hi' to Amanda at the end, so I told her to go ahead. The steps were quite narrow, so she took quite a while to get to the bottom. We really thought nothing of the incident."

Ms Weng was surprised when Lim posted on her Facebook account, and social media did the rest.

"Turns out that Caitlin's swimming coach is a friend of Lim's, so she took a screenshot of the post to show me, and asked if it was okay if she passed Amanda my number."

Lim texted Ms Weng from the Maldives where she is currently on holiday.

"She was very nice. I told her no need to explain herself, as she had just won a race and everyone was happy," said Ms Weng.

Caitlin, who Ms Weng said was very happy, recorded a video message to Lim.

Lim added: "It was so sweet. She is so well-spoken.

"I hope this whole thing can inspire her, and that I can meet her."