Seventeen months after joining the Chinese Swimming Club (CSC) as its swimming technical director, top local coach David Lim feels it is on track to rejoin the company of top local swim clubs.
During CSC's heyday, it produced 15 Olympians including Patricia Chan, Ang Peng Siong, Mark Chay and Lim himself.
But competition from private clubs like Swimfast Aquatic Club (SAC), which Lim founded, and Ang's Aquatic Performance Swim Club, has seen CSC lose its lustre.
However, Lim, who still coaches at SAC, believes an overhaul of CSC's programme has stemmed an exodus of its better swimmers.
The three-time Sportsman of the Year said: "The initial thing was to arrest the exodus of swimmers by creating a sustainable programme."
One thing the 49-year-old changed was the coaching methodology at CSC, ensuring that swimmers clocked sufficient mileage without getting burnt out. He also ensured that they received the correct type of training in line with their ages.
Previously, Lim, who joined on a two-year contract, felt that the swimmers were being overloaded.
He also brought on board former national assistant coach Eugene Chia and former Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) high performance manager Aloysius Yeo after noting that CSC's swimming programme was largely driven by swimmers' parents.
Former national swimmers Mylene Ong and Lim Zhi Cong have also joined the coaching staff.
Asked if he is afraid that a successful CSC will soon compete with SAC for swimmers, Lim said: "In fact I will be quite happy (if that happens) because it means there is a formula to create more clubs like us, which I'd like to think would be better for Singapore swimming overall."
Yesterday, as part of the revamp, the club launched the inaugural CSC Super Junior Swimming Invitational, an international meet featuring swimmers aged 12 and under.
The two-day meet, to be held on Sept 3 and 4 at CSC's Amber Road compound, is one of two junior international meets in Singapore. It aims to provide more racing opportunities for young swimmers.
The other is the Singapore National Age Group (Snag) Swimming Championships, organised by the SSA and typically held in the first half of the year.
Unlike the Snag, swimmers do not have to be members of swim clubs to participate in the CSC Super Junior Swimming Invitational. Registration fees are $32 (early bird) and $40 (regular). Each swimmer is allowed to compete in up to four individual and two relay events, with each additional event costing $8 each.
Clubs from countries including Japan, Australia and Indonesia have already registered for the meet.
The invitational has 11 events each for five age groups and is sanctioned by the SSA. The meet is capped at around 800 swimmers. Entry is free for spectators.
While there are no cash prizes, organisers said they are trying to secure prizes in kind for the male and female Most Valuable Player in each age category.
Lim said the event, which costs about $150,000 to host, is still looking for a title sponsor and the CSC aims to hold it annually.
He said: "In the later half of the year after the Snag and Schools National (meet), there is a barren spell. You see younger swimmers slowing down, taking time off... we hope this will plug the gap, give them something to look forward to and create more opportunities to race."