SINGAPORE - Swimming has taught him to be a fighter and to never give up.
That was put to the test on Monday (April 22) when Ardi Zulhilmi Mohamed Azman suddenly felt unwell and vomited a bit during the Schools National B Division boys' 1,500m freestyle final.
But the 16-year-old overcame his illness and persevered to win the race in 16min 41.05sec at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) pair Terence Ong (16:53.45) and Bernard Chan (17:18.49) were second and third respectively.
"I didn't panic and just focused on my momentum and the execution of my strokes. I didn't want to let that affect me," said the Outram Secondary School student, who trains eight times a week at the Aquarian Aquatic School.
The thought of winning a medal for his school and his parents spurred him on. He said: "I wanted to give up, but then I thought of my parents and the sacrifices they've made for me. I didn't want to let them down so I just kept pushing."
"Swimming is my passion. It makes me feel like a fighter, pushing myself alongside my competitors and fighting to the finish," added Ardi, who will be competing in June's Singapore National Swimming Championships in a bid to qualify for November's SEA Games in the Philippines.
He also competed in the B boys' 200m individual medley heats which he topped in 2:12.73 and qualified for the finals.
In the A boys' 1,500m free, national swimmer Glen Lim clinched the gold in 16:21.79, lowering the 16:48.62 meet record set by his Raffles Institution senior Ng Tze Yang in 2011. Teammate Pek Yi Liang (17:51.44) was second ahead of ACS(I)'s Justin Ong (18:10.72).
Even though the timing was off his personal best of 15:46.84, Glen remained upbeat.
The 17-year-old said: "This was more of a benchmark meet for me to see where I am.
"I don't feel disappointed even though it was a slow time because I know that I still have time to train before June's nationals."
The Year Five student added that the meet helped him recover some of his competitive fire as he aims to qualify for July's Fina World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, and the SEA Games.
Fellow national swimmer Gan Ching Hwee, 15, who is also gunning for the World Championships as well as the 2020 Olympics, led from start to finish in the B girls' 800m free. The Methodist Girls' School student clocked 9:13.40 to be ahead of Singapore Sports School duo Ervina Lim (9:37.33) and Candice Ang (9:42.50).