Swim schools gain from 'butterfly effect'

Children attending swimming lessons at Cobia Swimming School (CSS). Swim schools are seeing a spike in enquiries from potential students since Schooling's win.
Children attending swimming lessons at Cobia Swimming School (CSS). Swim schools are seeing a spike in enquiries from potential students since Schooling's win. PHOTO: COBIA

They watched Joseph Schooling swim. Now they want to take the plunge too.

Swim schools are seeing a spike in enquiries from potential students since Schooling's win. And lessons in his signature stroke - the butterfly - are turning out to be the hottest commodity.

Marketing manager Julie Ng, 35, intends to start her six-year-old son on swim lessons next year. She called up a couple of swim schools Monday when her son expressed interest in the sport after watching Schooling's Olympics race.

She said: "Since he is interested, we thought of letting him pick up the sport.There's a long road ahead and I hope he goes all the way if he wants to reach the top."

Most of the 10 schools contacted reported a surge in enquiries. This ranges from 20 per cent to 200 per cent. They declined to give existing student numbers, saying these are commercially sensitive data.

Mr Tan Jian Yong, 27, director of Happy Fish Swim School, one of the bigger swim schools here, said enquiries have doubled since Saturday. Many parents were keen on lessons for babies and toddlers. A few even asked for their child to learn the butterfly stroke despite their not knowing how to swim.

"Many parents are realising they need to start their children young if they want to groom champions," said Mr Tan, who expects a rise in enrolment in the months ahead. "This is a good sign - Singaporeans want to invest their time in sports."

Ms Lynn Adele Chng, 26, founder of Little Fins Swim School, said the queries she received tripled. These parents wanted to know more about placing their child in competitive swim training.

"I think parents will definitely be more open to consider sports as a career after this," she said.

"Existing students have also requested to learn the butterfly stroke out of the blue, even if they were still struggling with easier strokes. One kid even surprised me as I caught her trying to swim the butterfly on her own before her lesson."

But the coaches said sporting talents do not sprout overnight and require years of training .

Said Ms Chng: "Singaporeans are kiasu and always looking to be a part of something as great as this, even without knowing the hard work and time that goes with it.

"Talents like (Schooling)... have dedicated years of training to reach their goals.

"That's the same amount of commitment their coaches and parents need to exhibit."

Singapore Swimming Association secretary-general Oon Jin Teik believes Schooling's feat will inspire athletes and coaches here.

Calvin Yang and Amelia Teng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2016, with the headline 'Swim schools gain from 'butterfly effect''. Print Edition | Subscribe