Coronavirus pandemic

Asean artistic swimmers show solidarity with Zoom group workout

Eighteen Asean artistic swimmers, including three Singaporeans, displaying their exercises on land over Zoom.
Eighteen Asean artistic swimmers, including three Singaporeans, displaying their exercises on land over Zoom.PHOTO: SINGAPORE SWIMMING ASSOCIATION

South-east Asia's national artistic swimmers are used to representing their respective countries at various sporting events, and yesterday was no different.

But instead of competing for medals at a major Games, the swimmers were teammates in a group workout conducted over Zoom and broadcast live on Facebook.

The regional event, organised by the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA), was led by 15 athletes from Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia and Singaporeans Debbie Soh, Miya Yong and Ariel Sng.

SSA's vice-president of artistic swimming Steve Chew said the objective of the workout was for the artistic swimmers in the region "to show their solidarity, unity and enthusiasm and to inspire others during this Covid-19 pandemic".

Each swimmer took turns demonstrating and leading the various exercises, which focused on areas such as core strength and flexibility.

For some, like Sng and Brunei swimmer Hafizah Ahmad, the session was a timely source of motivation. The latter, whose teammate Jacqueline Lim also joined the workout, noted that Brunei's senior artistic swimming team comprised just the two of them.

Said Hafizah: "Being able to practise with a lot of people really builds that team spirit that we've never really had.

"We don't have a coach, so it keeps us motivated that we can still take part in things like this."

Sng, who turned 19 yesterday, said: "When we're training with swimmers from the other countries, it pushes us to want to do better to show our best sides to people.

"This also motivates us when we go back into the water, when we compete with (them) and can all see one another again."

The swimmers created a group chat to plan the workout and had two rehearsals prior to yesterday's session. Soh, 22, found it a "good initiative" as it allowed the swimmers to get to know one another better, as she noted that it can sometimes be difficult to match their faces to their names at competitions.

The five-time SEA Games gold medallist added: "Not every edition of the SEA Games (includes) our sport, so being able to see everyone from all the different countries being united and working together is really great."

Malaysian swimmer Zylane Lee agreed, saying: "I don't know when the next SEA Games with artistic swimming (last contested in 2017) will be, this shows that we are motivated to keep this sport going and I hope this event will invite more interest from the young ones, and that the sport will have a long future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 31, 2020, with the headline 'Asean artistic swimmers show solidarity with Zoom group workout'. Subscribe