Lee and Phua set for battle
SSA secretary general and bowling chief in two-way fight to lead the swimming fraternity
Singapore Swimming is set for a heavyweight battle when the association holds its annual general meeting (AGM) next month.
The constitution of the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) states that the AGM will have to be held by the end of next month and The New Paper reported in February that Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF) chief Jessie Phua will run for the presidency.
Yesterday, SSA secretary general Lee Kok Choy confirmed with TNP that he will challenge Phua for the top post.
"Yes I will be running for the SSA president's post," he said.
"Our basic manifesto is to build on what we have and keep taking the sport forward with a holistic approach.
"We will analyse where we have made mistakes in the past and make changes.
"We want to build up open-water swimming, which has been less active than the rest of the five aquatic disciplines we have that include swimming, water polo, synchronised swimming and diving.
"As secretary general, I've built up the professional capacity of the secretariat and the next step for me is to run for SSA presidency to take Singapore Swimming to the next level."
The 62-year-old is the country manager and managing director of Micron Semiconductor Asia Pte Ltd, and had served as SSA vice-president (diving) for four years before his current term as secretary general.
Lee helped to turn diving from a dormant sport into one that won two silver and two bronze medals at last year's South-east Asia Games in Myanmar.
He has one son, who used to be a middle-distance runner, and three daughters, two of whom were competitive hurdlers.
Lee confirmed he has roped in the greatest SEA Games athlete of all time, former swimmer Joscelin Yeo, in his team. Yeo will be vying for the post of vice-president (swimming).
Current SSA president Jeffrey Leow, national water polo team manager Samuel Wong and Singapore Water Polo's (SWP) chief of branding, Jerome Lau, are also on Lee's team.
"We have a strong team of fresh faces and stalwarts," said Lee.
"I'm excited to have Joscelin on our side. She will bring a fresh insight to the sport and she recently said she is keen to contribute and serve.
VIABLE CAREER OPTION
"Jeffrey will step down from his current role as president, but he still has much to offer in a supporting role."
In the other corner, Phua, who could not be reached for comment, will also field a strong team that includes former national swimmer Mark Chay and SWP chief of player development, Samson Tan.
According to a source, their plan is to build capabilities, empower clubs, affiliates and parents with skills and knowledge, and increase revenue channels.
Their goal is to create a healthy environment and make swimming a viable career option.
Phua is a formidable force.
In 2002, she took over the bowling federation, which was in crisis due to financial irregularities, and turned things around. In recent years, there has been a pipeline of up-and-coming bowlers, some of whom have become world champions.
Her two daughters Shu Yan and Nikki used to swim competitively.
It is understood that if she is elected SSA president, she will continue to lead bowling simultaneously.
Both candidates and their teams have already started to meet up with the more than 30 affiliates across all the aquatic disciplines.
Leow, who is reaching the end of the maximum eight years in charge under the body's constitution, is happy to see passionate and well-qualified individuals wanting to serve the sport.
"I hope that those who do not win will also continue to help," he said.
"We are a volunteer organisation and there is always room for those who love swimming and are willing to contribute.
"The main goal has to be the long-term success of Singapore Swimming across all the aquatic disciplines."
"When I was invited to serve in the swimming association recently, I agreed because swimming has always been close to my heart and I want to give back and make a difference.”
— Former Singapore swimmer Joscelin Yeo