SSA to upgrade the base of golden 'pyramid'

AFTER a year when the sport became the toast of the nation, the coming year for the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) will be one where much of the grind will be done away from the limelight.

The SSA held its annual general meeting (AGM) yesterday evening at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, capping what has been a busy but immensely successful year since a new management committee was voted in.

Besides a record-breaking performance at the SEA Games - where swimming alone accounted for 23 golds while synchronised swimming and diving also had breakthrough performances - the sport also claimed its first Commonwealth Games swimming medal and first Asiad gold in men's swimming since 1982.

But the SSA's leadership team stressed work must be done at the base level to keep this level of performance sustainable.

When asked about the focus of the committee's second year in office, secretary-general Oon Jin Teik said: "(It's about) continuing this system to make sure it works, and to make it run - not just start and die (off).

"We need to go back to the fundamentals - the base, the pathway. Coaches, technical officials, support from clubs.

"This (success) is through no luck of the draw. It was through detailed planning."

Added SSA president Lee Kok Choy: "You've seen the results at the pinnacle of the pyramid. (But) we need to work on the whole pyramid. We want to upgrade the lower levels so that they can feed into the whole infrastructure."

One thing the association hopes to achieve, for instance, will be building a larger base for synchronised swimming and diving, and work with the Ministry of Education in making these two disciplines a co-curricular activity in schools.

The SSA is well aware much expectation will be on them to continue on an upward trend, especially with the World Championships starting on July 24 and Rio Olympics just over a year away.

One of its next tests will also be in hosting the Fina World Junior Championships in August.

Said Lee: "We are moving higher up the food chain to the level where we want to be competitive. We don't want to be a flash in the pan - we want to build the whole capacity for the long run, that's what we're working on right now."

Added Oon: "This is a good milestone, but it's not the end of the journey."

maychen@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2015, with the headline 'SSA to upgrade the base of golden 'pyramid''. Print Edition | Subscribe