Asean Schools Games 2017

Asean Schools Games: The future is bright for Mikkel

Mikkel Lee swimming the backstroke leg of the boys' 4x100m medley relay. Singapore finished fourth in the event won by Indonesia. Earlier yesterday, Mikkel won the 50m backstroke and 50m freestyle golds.
Mikkel Lee swimming the backstroke leg of the boys' 4x100m medley relay. Singapore finished fourth in the event won by Indonesia. Earlier yesterday, Mikkel won the 50m backstroke and 50m freestyle golds.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

S'pore's top pool performer tipped by Lim to become a national swimmer one day

Most athletes are conditioned to think positively, visualising the best possible outcome before a race to pump themselves up. But for Mikkel Lee, the reverse is true.

The 14-year-old swimmer finished his Asean Schools Games (ASG) campaign with four golds (50m backstroke, 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 4x100m free relay) and one silver (100m free).

When asked what sparked his success, Mikkel, who won two golds on the final day, told The Straits Times yesterday: "At the reporting area, I tried to visualise my race and see what can happen, what's the worst outcome that I may get and prepare myself for that."

Despite being Singapore's top performer in swimming at the ASG, the Swimfast Aquatic Club member insisted that the medals that he achieved are just "a bonus".

He said: "Beating personal bests is what should come first. When you're racing at an even higher level, you cannot always win medals.

"You have to focus on your own race to try and beat yourself."

His next test is November's South-east Asia Age Group Swimming Championships in Brunei.

However, the Year 3 student from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) is set for an even bigger stage.

David Lim, founder of the Swimfast Aquatic Club, said: "We've got a few swimmers for the future and he's one of them.

"Maybe in 2019, he could be knocking on the door of the national team, but you'll have people like Quah Zheng Wen and Joseph Schooling. It's hard to displace them, so 2021 would be a more realistic target."

Before that though, there is work to be done.

Lim, a two-time Olympian who represented Singapore at the 1984 and 1988 Games, said: "Right now, Mikkel's got to adapt to the load of the training.

"When he reaches about 16 or 17 years old, we can start him off with some light weights to strengthen and buff him up a little bit."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'The future is bright for Mikkel'. Print Edition | Subscribe