Swimmer-turned-coach Mylene Ong hopes to make waves
Former Singapore swim relay ace now honing her skills as a coach
In the past, she spent her days at the pool often wearing a high-tech swimsuit, either training or trying to win medals.
She retired three years ago, but Mylene Ong is back on the competitive swimming stage, although this time she will not touch the water.
Ong, a full-time coach at the Chinese Swimming Club, will be involved in her first major meet when she leads 19 athletes to the Singapura Finance 47th Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships, which will be held at the OCBC Aquatic Centre from March 11 to 20.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, the 25-year-old said: "I was always working as a part-time learn-to-swim coach while I was still swimming, so then I developed some love for that.
"And since I've been doing learn-to-swim, I thought, why not try competitive coaching."
Ong was part of the women's 4x100m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle events who won gold at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Laos in 2009 and Indonesia two years later.
Together with teammates Amanda Lim, Lynette Lim and Quah Ting Wen, the quartet set a national record for the 4x100m free (3min 45.73sec) at the 2009 Games and also set a national mark for the 4x200m free (8min 09.9sec) at the 2009 World Championships.
Both records still stand today.
Some feel she retired from competition too early, but Ong has no regrets.
"I wouldn't say I ditched swimming for coaching," she said.
"It's because I've achieved enough in my swimming career.
"I want to share my passion for swimming with other people and that's where I'm heading."
Ong's journey as a coach began in 2010 when she was still swimming at an elite level. She taught part-time, guiding beginners at the Speedi Swim Club and Elite Swim Club.
After calling time on her career, she took up her current job full-time eight months ago.
Work is from 5.30am to 7.30am and another one-and-a-half hours in the evening.
Ong harbours ambitions of joining the national set-up as a high-performance coach, but knows she has some way to go before reaching such a standard.
"It could be in the junior squad or senior squad but, as long as it's national level, that's an aim for me," she said.
"In high-performance coaching, you need to have the experience and interest. Commitment level-wise, it will be different."
Ong explained that high-performance coaches spend a lot of time researching fields like nutrition and sport science, while producing training plans that are tailored to individual athletes.
"I would give myself at least four to five years in competitive coaching before going into high performance," she added.
"But, if there's a chance to maybe get attached to a high-performance coach, of course I'm willing to learn as soon as the opportunity comes."
Next month's national championships will be the final opportunity for Singapore swimmers to qualify for the Rio Olympics in August.
Ong has no national swimmer in her stable and she will use the event as a yardstick of her progress as coach.
"With the swimmers I have now, I hope to help them realise their potential. I have a couple of them who are topping their age group," she said.
"Hopefully, I'll see results there, because it will be a fully tapered meet and the swimmers are fully prepared, unlike the previous few time trials.
"I'm quite excited to see what they can do."