Clubs hopeful about plan but call for clarity

Swimmers from the 12-and-under girls’ category diving off the blocks in the 100m freestyle heats at the inaugural Chinese Swimming Club (CSC) Super Junior Swimming Invitational, on Sept 4, 2016. News that the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) is
Swimmers from the 12-and-under girls’ category diving off the blocks in the 100m freestyle heats at the inaugural Chinese Swimming Club (CSC) Super Junior Swimming Invitational, on Sept 4, 2016. News that the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) is set to launch two initiatives to enhance the club system drew mixed reactions from local clubs. PHOTO: ST FILE

News that the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) is set to launch two initiatives to enhance the club system drew mixed reactions from local clubs.

The podium performance programme, which will be implemented in October, will band clubs according to the number of competitive swimmers on their rosters.

The rating will determine subsidies for clubs' high-performance programmes, as well as the number of seats they get at coaching clinics and discussions with the national coaches.

The club excellence programme will see the SSA work with clubs on their high-performance plans. The SSA has over 80 clubs in its fold.

Chinese Swimming Club (CSC) technical director David Lim said yesterday he is adopting a wait-and-see approach for now.

Lim, who also founded top local club Swimfast Aquatic Club, said: "It sounds good on paper but what matters most is how it is implemented.

"I'm willing to work with them (SSA), but they need to give us a clear direction on what our roles are if we are a part of the pipeline to develop a swimmer.

"For example, if they want us to train the swimmers and then after some time, they will go to the National Training Centre, then we can re-evaluate our priorities."

However, Lim Lee Eng, who manages Ace Swim Club, is glad that more support will be given to clubs.

She said: "For our club, we focus more on developing swimmers at the junior level and most of our swimmers are aged between seven and 15, so we don't have much resources in high-performance coaching or programmes to help the swimmers who want to go to the SEA Games, for example.

"Having a reward system will encourage clubs to work even harder to produce more elite swimmers."

Whether or not the programmes take off, former Singapore swimming star Ang Peng Siong said it is good that clubs are now acknowledged as an integral part of grooming elite athletes.

Ang, the founder of Aquatic Performance Swim Club, said: "Every club has to be involved and empowered to be part of the whole pathway of producing top national swimmers.

"We want to see more than just a few big clubs being part of this delivery system."

CSC's Lim added: "The changes should also not be seen as a result of local clubs not doing anything.

"What's most important is that the SSA shares their plans in detail with us and we work towards one common objective."

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Clubs hopeful about plan but call for clarity'. Print Edition | Subscribe