Lifestyle

‘Aquatics as a unifying force for good’ — Mark Chay, Singapore Swimming Association president 


The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) president Mark Chay new year’s message to their members showed their objective for 2023, to build upon the breakthroughs and success of previous years as they prepare for three major events; the Cambodia SEA Games in May, the World Championships in Fukuoka in July, followed by the Hangzhou Asian Games, scheduled for September.

In 2022, Singapore won 21 golds, 11 silvers and 12 bronze at the SEA Games in Hanoi. Swimmer Teong Tzen Wei brought home the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and a historic fourth-place finish at the World Championships (25m). Teong equalled his Asian record of 22.01 seconds but lost out on a podium finish by 0.03sec to Hungary’s world record-holder Szebasztian Szabo who took bronze.

“When our team took over the reins at the Singapore Swimming Association, our goal was to make sure aquatics maintains its position as the top sport in Singapore. And I am glad to see that aquatics is indeed not only the top medal producer at major games, but is one of the rare sports in Singapore that can truly compete for a medal on the world stage,” said SSA president Chay.

“We are in a privileged position. We are among the few sports to be able to galvanise the nation and I truly believe our sport can be a unifying force for good.”

Photo: Singapore Swimming Association

While water polo was not featured in the 2022 SEA Games, Singapore hosted the inaugural Water Polo Inter Nations Cup, and both the men’s and women’s teams cemented their dominance as the top sides in the region.

The men’s competition was played in a round-robin format, and the Singapore team won all five matches; Singapore 11-6 Thailand, Singapore 31-4 Malaysia, Singapore 11-2 Singapore B,  Singapore 12-3 Philippine,  Singapore 16-2 Indonesia.

In the women’s competition, Singapore A defeated Thailand 9-4 to be crowned champions, while Singapore B went down 9-3 to Malaysia in the bronze medal match.

The SSA president also highlighted achievements by other aquatics athletes, such as Max Lee, who made history by finishing fourth at the World Junior Diving Championships and was the only Asian in the 12-diver final in Montreal, Canada. 

Chay, who was elected unopposed as the association’s president in July 2022, said that the swimming association wants to go beyond just high-performance athletes, and this year they hope to launch more learn-to-swim initiatives with partners and affiliates to reach out to the masses.

“We will not only be imparting life skills, but hopefully, also help more people fall in love with the sport and become lifelong fans,” explained Chay, who is also a Nominated Member of Parliament.

“We will also continue our initiatives to give back to the community, via initiatives such as the SAFRA Swim for Hope in which our athletes do their bit to raise funds for various beneficiaries, including the SSA.”

SSA will participate in several fundraising initiatives this year – starting with the Water Polo Community Fund Raising event on January 7-8 at Our Tampines Hub. The goal is to raise $50,000 for water polo initiatives, and the SSA president urges the fraternity to support these events as much as possible.

 

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