To say that the past week has been a good one for Freida Lim would be an understatement.
The national diver has been accepted at Clemson University in the United States on a full athletic scholarship, becoming the first Singaporean from her sport to compete in the top division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) system.
The scholarship will cover her tuition and accommodation, and is renewable annually.
She has signed her National Letter of Intent, committing to the Clemson Tigers, and will leave for South Carolina to begin her freshman year in August.
She told The Straits Times yesterday: "I'm really excited about it. It's going to be much easier to juggle sports and studies there because the Division 1 schools are good withhelping students manage time and training.
"It's harder to do that here in Singapore. This way I'd be able to compete a lot and still get a degree."
Lim was named by the Singapore Swimming Association as its Athlete of the Year (Diving) at its annual awards night on Saturday.
The 18-year-old won a SEA Games bronze medal in the women's 10m platform last year, and also teamed up with Myra Lee in the 10m synchronised platform to win a silver.
Lim, who has stepped up her training from the usual 20 hours weekly to about 28 hours now, while waiting to begin college, had looked at a few schools before deciding on Clemson as it offered her a full scholarship.
National coach Shannon Roy, himself a 1998 Commonwealth Games 3m springboard champion with experience competing and coaching in the United States, said the exposure will do Lim a lot of good.
He is targeting the first Singaporean to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and had already singled out Lim as one of the top local talents.
He said: "Freida's really a hidden gem in Singapore. As much as I'm excited for her to be going over, I'm a little bit jealous that I won't get to keep her here.
"It's a fantastic chance for her to be exposed to a different style of training and competition, and different styles of athletes in America.
"The wonderful thing about the collegiate system is the amount of competitions athletes get exposed to. We don't get a whole lot of competition frequently here and certainly not of (that) calibre.
"Freida will get a chance to learn more about herself in competition, get more experience with that, and in the long term set herself up a lot better for the future years to come."
Lim has yet to decide on a course of study but is leaning towards food science. She is already relishing the tougher competition she will face in the American collegiate system.
She said: "The competition there is definitely going to be pretty tough but I'm excited about it."