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Written by Janelle Yeo on 31 January 2022

After The Storm Comes The Rainbow

My experience as an Artistic Swimmer for the past five years has been life-changing.

How I started:

I started this sport at the age of 10. At about five years old, I loved to watch videos of artistic swimmers dancing gracefully in the water. All the lifts and spins and cool hybrids amazed me, and I wanted to do it too. In alignment to prepare me to take up synchronized swimming (now known as artistic swimming), my mother signed me up for swimming, gymnastics, ballet, and piano classes. Then, I loved my spontaneous schedule. Being so focused on these activities, I forgot why I started in the first place. I started swimming competitively and took my other activities more seriously too.

One fine day when I had a play date with a childhood friend at her swimming pool, I saw my friend holding a nose clip in her hand as she was in synchro; I was reminded of my first love. It wasn’t too long before I signed up for the trial sessions in speediswim. By then, I couldn’t wait to start learning synchro and was bursting with excitement. I was finally about to learn how to do all those incredible stunts!! 

After starting my synchro training, I was still juggling my schedule between competitive swimming and artistic swimming due to the many commitments I had promised myself and my competitive swimming coach to deliver. Two tough years in 2017 and 2018 shaped me up to who I am today.

The Calm Before the Storm

Many changes and an unknown future surrounded my beginning as an Artistic Swimmer. Not knowing what to expect, I held the faith and sailed along.

The first big challenge I met was an identity crisis between a competitive swimmer and an artistic swimmer. My competitive swimming coach in the previous club has unthoughtfully imposed this challenge. I was feeling disappointed when my ex-coach made fun of my love for artistic swimming and belittled my every effort to want to do well in both sports. Worst of all, he made use of me to build another teammate whom my ex-coach was trying to develop to outdo my performance. Thus, in 2019, when I finally delivered all my commitments as a competitive swimmer to him and myself, I moved on.

Knowing my love for both sports, Uncle Philip offered an opportunity for me to continue with competitive swimming during the transition to a complete Artistic Swimmer. I greatly appreciated this kind thought and gesture, and this short stay with Speediswim’s Competitive Swimming team had shown me a light at the end of the tunnel.

During the rocky years that my Club – Speediswim had gone through, I encountered several Artistic Swimming coaches in my life. Each of them played a significant role in my sporting career. The one who had left the most profound impressions was Coach Tanya. She was a very skillful coach who strengthened the fundamentals of my synchro career. Then, Speediswim had to give up our pool in Singapore Sports School, and we shifted to a non-sheltered swimming pool in Bukit Merah. That was where all the challenges set in.

It was not only because of the training environment. Coach Tanya always had us stay back for extra training and made sure we kept pushing and giving our all. The increase in training load and more demanding training environment built my resilience. Ironically, even though Coach Tanya was strict and demanding, her encouragement was also the light that kept me going when I felt like giving up.

A New Beginning

When we finally found our home ground in the German European School of Singapore (GESS), the rest has become history. We started to rebuild our club in GESS. My current coach, Coach Katya, is an amazing coach! She is gentle, kind, and caring, which kept many of us going. She is a highly skilled coach who has provided the key to unleashing my potential and desires in synchro. Coach Katya is outstanding choreography too! I love the routines and the challenges she choreographed to push us to want to do better and do more naturally.

With encouragement from Coach Katya and support from Uncle Philip, I joined the Singapore Sports School (SSP) when I was 13. I was determined to continue improving in artistic swimming and dream to represent Singapore in the national team.

Initially, Coach Katya coached my seniors and me in SSP in preparation for the 2020’s National School Games. However, it wasn’t long before we had to halt all training due to the pandemic. Shortly after, we went into the Circuit Breaker.

When I was finally back in school, all things changed. Coach Katya wasn’t allowed to enter the school, and we were not allowed to train together. In a relatively new environment, I started to train alone. Coach made efforts to write sets for me weekly so that I could continue training even when she wasn’t around. I worked very hard and practiced with all my energy daily. When she wasn’t allowed to go to school, training in the club with Coach was very precious. Her encouragement has been a pillar of strength for me during the most challenging times, and I am incredibly grateful for her.

An Opportunity

National Youth Team 2021 (Source: SSA Facebook)

Coach Katya has to set goals for me as part of annual planning for my school. One of the goals she set was to join the National Youth Team (NYT) last year. Before the selection trial, she has worked closely with me to improve my trial exercises and routine. Our efforts paid off, and I was selected! 

Adaptation to the new training regime and teammates could not take too long because the team was set up to represent Singapore in an international competition. My days spent in NYT were fruitful as I made many new friends, and it pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and further improve my skills in artistic swimming.

A Chance Missed 

Singapore Open Artistic Swimming Competition 2021 (Source: SSA Facebook)

The last goal set by Coach was for me to be successfully enlisted in the National Team this year. However, I fractured my wrist in the nick of time. I felt terrible having to miss the selection trial as Coach has spent a lot of time preparing me in terms of skills and routine; what was most appreciated was her care and concern for me emotionally. I am determined to come back stronger in the trial next year.

I would not be where I am today without all the experiences gained over the past years. I am proud to wear the SPEEDI logo whenever I go to competitions. And I am incredibly grateful to be part of this community of friends, family, coaches, teachers, and club, who have supported me through thick and thin.

 

Article written by Janelle Yeo

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