By Clara Shen (20A01A), Gabrielle Ng (20A01E), and Jermaine Wong (20S03R)
Photos courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
With High Hopes by Panic! at the Disco blasting in the background, the atmosphere at the OCBC Aquatic Centre is lively but tense, as competitors and spectators alike anticipate the sounding of the starting signal. It is the fifth day of the National Schools Swimming Championships, and our swimmers are preparing for their final face off against fierce contenders from other tertiary institutions.
At the stands, our supporters are easily identifiable by the sea of green and white balloons they are waving excitedly in the air. It was certainly heartwarming to see a crowd of fellow schoolmates joining in camaraderie to cheer on our swimmers, who have been training hard for this very day and need all the energy they can get to complete this final stretch. Today, they expect, is going to be a day of triumphs after all the trials and tribulations they’ve been through. Yes, the stakes are high, but the spirits of the team and their supporters are also at an all-time high. After all, there is nothing more exhilarating than a sport in which fraction of a second could mean the difference between a gold and a silver.
The RI girls achieved outstanding results, with Chelsea Khoo (20S07A), Megan Ng (20S03Q) and Shae-Lynn Tan (19S03F) clinching 1st, 2nd and 4th positions respectively for the 50m backstroke event. In the subsequent 100m freestyle, the girls’ team continued to impress as both participants, Cherlyn Yeoh (19S03N) and Tang Yee Teng (20S06C), attained a spot on the podium with Cherlyn winning the gold medal, and Yee Teng, the silver. Vice-captain Kathlyn Laiu (19S05A) also did the school proud by achieving 1st in the 200m breaststroke with a timing of 2:50.53, a whole 10 seconds faster than the girl who came in 2nd.
The highlight of the event was when the girls’ swim team which consisted of Chelsea, Cherlyn, Elizabeth, and Kathlyn came in first in the 200m freestyle relay, to rousing cheers. Their remarkable display of teamwork has once again proven that swimming is a team sport as much as it is an individual sport. Charging with full steam ahead, the relay team clocked an admirable timing of 1:49.31, nearly ten seconds ahead of the silver.
From the boys’ team, Ethan Lim (19A01C) finished as 1st runner-up in the 100m freestyle event after an extremely close contest where he was pitted against strong swimmers from ACSI and CJC. Up next was the 200m butterfly, where Jaryl Yeo (20S06I) gave his all and won both the bronze medal, as well as the approval of the crowd. Although he later confided in an interview with us that “losing second felt bad”, his coach still reaffirmed that “it was a good race” as his timing of 2:10.25 in this event was a personal best. The support from his family, who has been by his side since the start of this journey, and from his friends who came down to cheer him on that day, also encouraged and comforted him.
The boys’ swim team, comprising Daryl, Ethan, Glen, and Rhys, put up a good fight in the 200m freestyle relay, placing a close second behind ACSI with a timing of 1.36.22. This particular relay was an intense fight between RI and ACSI, with our swimmers maintaining a marginally close distance behind. Although ACS(I) may have performed better in the boys’ division this year, several swimmers we spoke to were confident that with hard work and determination, RI could be crowned double champions next year.
Of course, behind these remarkable achievements are months of both mentally and physically demanding trainings where many swimmers had no choice but to sacrifice the time they had for sleep and for completing their schoolwork. With training sessions either once or twice a day in the morning and afternoon, it is easy to see why these athletes face difficulties juggling their CCA and their studies. As Jaryl also shared with us, “During this whole period, I didn’t go out with my friends. [When I had] free time, [I would] just sleep.”
Overall, the team delivered outstanding results in fruition of their months of hard work, with the girls landing a gold medal with 216 points, and the boys attaining a silver medal with 159 points. This would not have been possible without the collective support from teachers, coaches, family, and friends who have journeyed alongside our swimmers. Our swimmers had truly put their limits to the test, going beyond their mental and physical barriers to bring glory to the school. With that, Raffles Press would like to congratulate the Raffles swim team on their impressive achievements!