Singapore Swimming Association revamps Junior National Development Squad
In a bid to eventually build a world-class team and reach Olympic levels, the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) will revamp and remodel its Junior National Development Squad (JNDS).
The new system will see the top young swimmers from all clubs and across all disciplines train with the JNDS, a significant difference from the existing programme where top swimmers from the top two clubs - Swimfast Aquatic Club and Aquatic Performance Swim Club - do not participate in the JNDS.
This also means that some of the existing swimmers of the JNDS will no longer qualify and can train only with their clubs instead.
It is understood that the swimmers will still be able to represent their current clubs, who will also not suffer any financial losses in terms of club fees.
However, the changes, which were announced by the SSA to the swimmers and parents in a meeting at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday, will take place only in the new year as assistant coach Eugene Chia, who was looking after the JNDS, has resigned and is currently on leave.
This means the young swimmers will train with their clubs for the time being until the new national coach Sergio Lopez and his assistant Gary Tan officially start work next month.
SSA executive director Edwin Ker said yesterday: "We have had two meetings with parents and swimmers of the JNDS as we explore ways to improve and have a more comprehensive national junior programme.
"This is in line with our overall high performance sports plan which will be led by head coach Sergio Lopez and his assistant national coach Gary Tan.
"With the recent resignation of assistant coach Eugene Chia, who was in charge of the JNDS squad, we will further explore all options for the JNDS swimmers once Sergio and Gary start their tenure at SSA in January."
However, it appears that the changes do not sit well with some of the young swimmers and their parents.
One parent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The New Paper: "The existing programme which was started by former national coach Ian Turner one and a half years ago has yielded very good results in terms of improved timings.
"It has allowed swimmers from smaller clubs to come together for centralised training, and they have improved after going for training camps and competing with each other.
"We were initially told the programme will go on until April, when the swimming calendar ends, so it came as a surprise to be told of the changes that would take place so soon.
"It means some swimmers would have to go back to their clubs, where they may not be training at an equally high level."
To facilitate as smooth a transition as possible, it is believed that the SSA has made some plans to allow the current JDNS swimmers to train at the OCBC Aquatic Centre under Tan until March, pending pool availability and timing.
Another parent said: "National Sports Associations have to move with the times and make the necessary changes to improve.
"You can't please everybody, and I believe the SSA is doing what's best with regard to the bigger picture of producing a strong national team."