Swimming: Camping for the next generation of swim stars

Swimmers doing a cheer at the end of training at the OCBC Aquatic Centre. They were participating in a junior swimming development camp. Club coaches were also part of the four-day event.
Swimmers doing a cheer at the end of training at the OCBC Aquatic Centre. They were participating in a junior swimming development camp. Club coaches were also part of the four-day event.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Come August, when Sergio Lopez steps down as the Singapore swimming team's head coach, he hopes the conveyor belt for churning out the next crop of talent for the Republic will remain in place.

To achieve his vision, the Singapore Swimming Association organised a junior swimming development camp for 20 young swimmers aged between 13 and 18 from five clubs to experience being a part of the National Training Centre (NTC) set-up.

The four-day camp, which ends today, is part of Lopez's initiatives to train both NTC and non-NTC swimmers together - giving the latter a taste of the training regimen of elite athletes.

National assistant coach Gary Tan, along with National Youth Sports Institute swimming head coach Leonard Tan, is determined to continue Lopez's legacy.

"We've to carry on what he has implemented," he said.

"The plan for sustainable success must continue, even after the person leaves. The NTC has been good for Singapore swimming and I've been given this opportunity to share with others what I've learnt under Sergio."

Besides pool training sessions conducted by Tan, the camp also included workshops on nutrition, sport psychology and recovery techniques. Another important aspect of the camp was reaching out to the various swim clubs around the country.

Alongside the 20 club swimmers in attendance, 10 club coaches were also part of the camp to learn new coaching methods - something Tan wants to see more of.

The 34-year-old said: "We want to tell our club coaches across the board that we want them to get better. These coaches are very hungry for information and this is the best time to provide that to them.

"We also want our NTC kids to have a connection with the rest of the clubs and create a strong team unit. These swimmers will most likely represent Singapore together and we want to build a cohesive team environment."

Swimfast Aquatic Club swimmer Chan Zi Yi, 15, enjoyed the camp.

"Training with the NTC squad is really good because everyone is very positive and always pushing one another," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline 'Camping for the next generation of swim stars'. Print Edition | Subscribe