Red Lions controversy: 5 things to know about the two groups contesting the name

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Swimming Association copped flak for its lack of originality when it borrowed the name of an elite skydiving unit here as the new national brand identity for its athletes.

In an embarassing U-turn, it has since dropped its Red Lions moniker after pressure from military servicemen, the Ministry of Defence and members of the public.

Here are 5 things to know about both groups.

Singapore Swimming Association's water-based Red Lions

1. New national team identity

According to the SSA, its new identity Red Lions is a "symbol that sits on the highest ground and serves as the beacon of inspiration".

The logo, which depicts the head of a lion, symbolises courage, strength and excellence. The five stars on top represents the five aquatic disciplines within SSA - swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, water polo and open water swimming.

2. National campaign and video

Along with its new identity, SSA also launched a national campaign called "Swim with Us" on March 14, which was unveiled by Minister for Manpower and Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin.

It also released a video which depicts a young girl getting inspired after watching Singapore's aquatic athletes such as Asian Games gold medallist Joseph Schooling in action on television.

3. Big year for aquatic sports in Singapore

All eyes will be on the Red Lions during June's South-east Asian (SEA) Games on home soil.

The venue, the OCBC Aquatic Centre at the Singapore Sports Hub, will also host three international competitions this year. They are the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in August, as well as the FINA Swimming World Cup and FINA Diving Grand Prix, both in October.

4. How was the name chosen?

SSA's Vice-President (Finance) Jose Raymond said "there was a deep and detailed stakeholder engagement" while deciding on the new national brand identity. Feedback from the athletes were taken into account and the name was a unanimous decision.

5. Seeking better engagement with fans

SSA is planning to revamp its website to provide more content for the public. It also expanded its reach on social media by setting up its Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Singapore Armed Forces' airborne Red Lions

1. When were they formed?

While freefall displays by the Singapore Armed Forces Parachute Team have been a regular feature at National Day Parades, it was only in 1995 that the name Red Lions was formally coined.

The team is part of the Singapore Armed Forces' Commando Formation.

2. Who came up with the name?

Pach Ang, a veteran commando and Red Beret in the SAF Special Forces unit. According to a report in Sept 2014, Mr Ang clocked an impressive total of 3,500 jumps during his 32 years of service.

He moved to Abu Dhabi in 2009 and founded professional event management company RedFilo. The name is a tribute to his parachute-jumping days - red refers to the colour of the distinctive beret he wore while in service, while "Filo" is special forces speak for "first in, last out".

3. What it takes to be a Red Lion

The team almost exclusively draws its members from the Commandos or the Naval Diving Unit. To qualify, a Red Lion must have made a minimum of 180 jumps. Training takes place on weekends.

4. They're the best of the best

At the 12th Asiania Four-way Formation Skydiving Championships - an annual Asia-Pacific competition - held from Oct 29 to Nov 7 2008 in the United Arab Emirates, the Red Lions beat 16 teams from 11 countries to clinch the top award.

They have also participated in numerous international and regional competitions over the years.

5. They have a female daredevil in their ranks

Third Warrant Officer Shirley Ng earned the distinction of being the first female Red Lion when she made her NDP debut in 2014. She was supposed to jump a year earlier, but the Red Lions segment was called off due to poor weather.

3WO Ng started out her SAF career as a certified rigger, whose job is to pack parachutes, in 1998. In an ST interview in July 2013, she said she overcame a wrist injury to be selected for a position mostly filled by commandos.

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