By Agatha Lim (16A01B) and Choo Shuen Ming (16A01E)
Photos by Chang Po Chun (16S03K) and Choo Shuen Ming (16A01E)
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, Press was only able to cover the finals on 22/4, and was unable to attend the heats and finals from 16/4 to 21/4.
“And there go the drums from Raffles Institution!” It was a lively scene at the Singapore Sports School pool, with all three Raffles schools enthusiastically cheering on the Raffles Swim Team with every event. Months of gruelling training and intense preparation—an incredible 11 times a week for some—culminated in this one moment: the final leg of the swimming school nationals.
Boys 200m Individual Medley
The day’s A division events began with the Boys’ 200 m Individual Medleys, which are effectively four sprints (one per stroke – butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle) done back to back—a gruelling test of all-round competence. With that in mind, our swimmers’ strong showing of 2 medal positions was all the more impressive: Damian Chong (15S03J) led all the way and came in 1st, finishing with a time of 2m 17.63s, and Puar Yue Hong’s (15S03G) timing of 2m 24.47s took home the bronze.
Girls 100m Breaststroke
The 100m breaststroke event was the first A Division girls event of the day. Both our finalists had participated in the 50m breaststroke the day before, and they were put to the test once again. Though neither emerged as medalists, our girls did us proud by fighting hard to contribute points to the team: Rachel Lee (15S03K) clocked a time of 1m 20.52s at 4th place and Jeannette Some (16S07A) came in 8th at 1m 30.37s.
Boys 100m Breaststroke
Three of our swimmers took part in the 100m breaststroke finals in a fast-paced race of two laps. Russell Tang (16S03R) appeared to lag behind in the first lap by one whole second, but managed to overtake his opponent to clinch the silver medal at 1m 09.03s. The other finalists also fought hard and Ngampakdeepanich Phuripong (16S06C) finished 6th at 1m 15.31s while Puar Yue Hong finished 8th with a time of 1m 19.40s.
Girls 50m Freestyle
For the Girls’ 50m Freestyle, Song Ai Vee’s (15S07A) 27.85s swim and Richelle Ang’s (15S06B) 28.83s won the gold and bronze medals respectively. Our other finalists also did well, with Nicole Ong (15S06D) in 4th place and Teo Ee Lynn (16S03S) finishing 6th. Of note is how all four managed to improve on their already impressive heats times, a clear testament to their commitment to the sport.
Boys 50m Freestyle
Ben Yeo (16S06Q) and Nathan Wong (16S03K) competed in this race, and it was a close one with the swimmers giving their all, making huge waves and splashes as they raced. Ben came in 8th, at 25.36s, a valiant effort, especially considering that he swum against older J2s. Nathan finished 3rd, with a timing of 24.26s, just three hundredths of a second shy of silver — an intensely close finish.
Girls 4x50m Medley Relay
As for the medley relay, four competitors each swim one lap in the following order of strokes: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle. In the exciting last event of the Girls’ A Division, we got off to a good start as May Chua (15A13A) and Rachel Lee led the first two laps, with Anglo-Chinese Junior College trailing behind by a mere fraction of a second. Unfortunately, they managed to overtake us in the third lap, and our subsequent swimmers Chan Fang Yi (16S06R) and Song Ai Vee attempted to make a comeback but eventually emerged as 2nd by 0.33 seconds with an overall timing of 2m 05.22s. The team left with their heads held high knowing they did their best.
Boys 4×50 Medley Relay
To finish off the swim meet, Jerome Kwang (16S06M), Russell Tang, Andrew Toh (16S06C) and Nathan Wong participated in the medley relay. In a close race, the boys trailed behind the 1st position by one second, and fought neck and neck with Temasek Junior College for a hard-won 2nd place. With Nathan Wong swimming freestyle, he bested the 50m Freestyle meet record of 23.71s by 0.01s. With their strong efforts, the boys managed to clinch the silver medal with a timing of 1m 50.66s.
Overall the Raffles Swim Team won a total of 155 points for the Boys A Division, narrowly losing to Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) by 22 points. The A Division Girls managed to defend their title against strong opposition from other schools with a whopping 185 points. On the whole, they certainly performed very well; as captain Damian Chong said, “it was one of [their] strongest showings in recent years” and he was “really excited about the direction that RJ swimming is taking”.
Indeed, Damian shared that it was the annual swim camp and centralised trainings (which began this year) that helped them forge a sense of unity so evident in the finals. Many swimmers faced injuries and personal problems, but ultimately pushed on, and “broke through a lot of their personal bests because they knew that they were swimming for something greater”, for one another. Watching the swimmers as they cheered for their teammates and swum alongside each other in events, one could see and hear, and ultimately feel their team spirit.
We usually think of swimming as an individual sport, but Raffles Swimming showed us another side—it is not merely an individual sport, but a team effort. Every point won by the swimmers is one won for the team. Their support for one another was commendable and heartwarming, and evidently, to them the team mattered as much—if not more than—the trophies won.Team captain Damian summed it up nicely: “I’m really proud that the team stuck together, we cheered as a team, and we competed as a team, and I think that the bonding element of Raffles Swim Team was incredible this year, and I’m really really proud of how the swimmers performed.”
Congratulations to the A Div swim team, and indeed to all of the swimmers from the three Raffles schools! They truly swum as one out there, and we at Raffles Press would like to wish them all the best in their future meets!