Asean Schools Games: Charity profits from her mother's swimming experiences

Charity Lien and her mother, Yuen Shuang Ching, share a bond that has been strengthened by discussions about swimming. Yuen is a former national U-15 100m breaststroke record holder.
Charity Lien and her mother, Yuen Shuang Ching, share a bond that has been strengthened by discussions about swimming. Yuen is a former national U-15 100m breaststroke record holder.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

She was on the verge of quitting the sport last year after a series of lacklustre performances.

However, a pep talk from her mother inspired 14-year-old swimmer Charity Lien to push on, and she has been rewarded with a chance to represent Singapore at the Asean Schools Games (ASG), which begin today.

"When my (swim) times started to increase and I wasn't swimming near my personal bests, I lost quite a bit of motivation and drive to continue," she admitted.

Her mother Yuen Shuang Ching, a former national Under-15 100m breaststroke record holder, is no stranger to the pressures of competitive swimming.

Mother and daughter bonded over similar experiences.

"I remember the pressure I used to feel when I stepped onto the starting block," recalled the 48-year-old. "I told her, 'Don't be discouraged, take these failures as a learning opportunity instead.' After all, the whole point of training so hard is to improve."

A change of training environment also contributed to Charity's renewed passion. She now trains under former national swimmer Ang Peng Siong and his team.

On coach Ang, she said: "At first I thought he would be very scary, but people call him the gentle giant and he definitely lives up to that name."

She has since shaved almost two seconds off her 100m breaststroke time of 1min 14sec, set at last year's ASG in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Aside from breaststroke, she will compete in multiple events at the Games, including the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley (IM). Her versatility is something which she is proud of, especially since her idol is Katinka Hosszu, the Hungarian IM specialist and a three-time Olympic champion.

"Like me, she also swims all the events at every meet. In every single event she swims, she wins a medal," said Charity.

"But the reason I look up to her most is because of her determination and humility; even after her races she is very gracious and will always congratulate her rivals."

This year will mark Charity's second appearance at the Games. Sidelined by a bout of food poisoning in Chiang Mai, she did not perform up to her expectations. This time, she is keen to make amends, especially in front of a home crowd.

"I'm used to swimming in Singapore, so I feel more relaxed actually," she said. "I'm looking forward to putting on a good fight."

But she has loftier ambitions, such as representing Singapore on the biggest stage.

"My ultimate goal is to go to the Olympics, to meet all the other swimmers and hopefully Katinka," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'Charity profits from her mother's swimming experiences'. Print Edition | Subscribe