By Ruchira Ramaswamy (20S03A) and Coco Liu (20S06L)
Photographs courtesy of Megan Toh Jia Qi (20S03N) and Xanelle Tan Li-Shyan (20S03M) of Raffles Photographic Society
It is claimed, in the CCA Previews’19 for Water Polo (Girls), that “It doesn’t matter if you’re not a fast swimmer.” Sounds like a long shot, something they’d say to encourage more people to go for CCA trials, because of course you have to swim fast to be in Polo, right?
Wrong. In fact, some players in the current team used to be non-swimmers. Of this, their coach, Mr Lim Yao Xiang, admits that, “In my 10 years of experience [coaching the RI Girls’ team], this batch has come the longest way.”
As team captain, Nicole Lim (19A01C), put it, “The biggest challenge was to accommodate for the swimmers and non-swimmers…The challenge really was to train not just individually but to work as a team.” Watching them now, launching swiftly into their warm-ups: sets of push-ups, squats and superman – or should we say, superwoman – exercises, it’s easy to see how far they’ve come – from a team with their individual differences to one with extraordinary teamwork.
As the stadium filled steadily with supporters for the Water Polo (Girls) Finals on 3 April and players took their positions along opposite ends of the pool, the pressure to defend their 12-year winning streak mounted. The game started off when the referee tossed the ball into the water. The pool instantly changed from a sea of calm to a raging battlefield, with swift, determined strokes as players from both teams scrambled for the ball.
Water Polo proved to be an intense game played at breakneck speed. Within a minute the Raffles team had scored their first goal. By the two-minute mark, the score had become 2-0 in favour of RI. By the end of the first quarter, RI had scored three more goals, while the opposition – Temasek Junior College (TJC) – made a few valiant but unsuccessful attempts. The second quarter continued in much the same way – RI had sneaked in three more goals before TJC made their first goal, after which RI retaliated by scoring yet another point. The first half of the game ended on a score of 9-1 in RI’s favour.
By the third quarter, RI had worked up an impressive score of 11-3. The last quarter of the game was filled with neck-to-neck dashes for the ball, and both teams going all out to score a goal. However, all valiant attempts were thwarted swiftly by the goalies. When the last minute of the game was announced, the atmosphere had heated up intensely, punctuated with screams of “Let’s go Raffles!”
As the horn blared, signalling the end of the match, Rafflesians rose in ecstasy, waving their green, black and white clappers. The pride and joy that radiated from the team was evident as they lined up to receive their gold medals. Team Captain Nicole noted with much delight, “This was our best game yet.”
Winning gold for the 13th consecutive year has been no easy feat for the girls. Apart from the physical rigour, the mental challenge was ever-present. Team member Christine Mok (19S03N) revealed that the team was immensely demoralised after a particularly tough competition against university teams at the Women’s Open. “We were worried not to see any improvement [in ourselves while watching] our opponents get better,” she said. The captain’s observations were along similar lines, stating that their performance depended on their confidence level – “sometimes we let the other teams get to us.” Furthermore, there was the continual pressure – “since last year” – to defend their winning streak.
But this is clearly a hurdle that the team has vaulted over, as they rejoice now with hugs, beaming smiles and, of course, endless photos. Their celebration culminates with them shoving their coach into the pool and diving in themselves, soaking up their well-deserved victory.
With that, Raffles Press would like to congratulate the Water Polo team on their outstanding achievement!
(1) Megan Cheah – 19S03D
(2) Georgia Lim – 19S06F
(3) Zoe Kee – 19S03H
(4) Christine Mok – 19S03N
(5) Jamie Foo – 20S06M
(6) Jane Poh – 19S03R
(7) Chia Han Hui – 19S03G
(8) Tammi Chia – 19S06L
(9) Ariel Lim – 20A01C
(10) Nicole Lim – 19A01C (Captain)
(11) Coline Staes-Polet – 20A13A
(12) Elizabeth Lee – 19S03C
(13) Oh Jiashang – 19S06L
Yu Yi Shan – 19S07B
Jamie Tan – 20S06R