Amanda changes her mind
Sprint champ bounces back with new goals after 'quarter-life crisis'
American Anthony Ervin was 35 years old when he won the men's 50m free at last month's Rio Olympics, 16 years after doing the same in Sydney.
His teammate Michael Phelps finally called it quits after the recent Games, at age 31, after winning the last of his record 28 Olympic medals in the Brazilian city.
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu, on the other hand, finally touched gold at the Olympics this year, at age 27, after years of showing promise of becoming a world-beater.
But, at age 23, Singapore swimmer Amanda Lim had seriously contemplated retiring from the sport.
Feeling stagnant about her progress in recent years, and the disappointment of failing to qualify for this year's Olympics, the freestyle specialist mulled over hanging up her goggles.
But the Nanyang Technological University sports science and management undergraduate has decided to stay on until the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, and may try to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
"I was having a quarter-life crisis and thinking about stopping, but I felt that I had unfinished business, so I thought I would give myself maybe one or two more years to try some things out," said Lim, on the sidelines of the announcement of Liberty Insurance's sponsorship of the Singapore leg of the Fina swimming World Cup next month.
Lim, who won back-to-back women's 50m free SEA Games titles from 2009 to last year, took a break after the Asean University Games here in July, and returned to training only last week, under National Training Centre coach Gary Tan.
She has started a social work internship with Pacific Activity Centre, to "get out of my comfort zone", and is still taking baby steps towards next year's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Lim credited former national coach Sergio Lopez, who left his post after the Olympics, for instilling a can-do mindset in her.
She said: "I have this quote I always live by - if it's to be it's up to me - and Sergio brought actual meaning to this quote for me.
"If I really want it, I will find the different means and ways to open up new options to get me there."
Among the sprint queen's more immediate goals are to retain her 50m free SEA Games title in Kuala Lumpur next year, as well as to break her own national record in the event.
Her time of 25.38sec was set in the Asian Youth Games here in 2009, a peak she has yet to replicate, but feels she is near surpassing now, thanks to a mindset and training programme that Lopez has started, and continued by Tan.
Lim said: "My record was set in an era with the (now-banned) high-tech suits, but we should have moved closer to that level in textile suits by now.
"I have been getting close to the kind of times I was doing then, and that's definitely a confidence booster for me.
"And if I break my national record, that would mean that I would have a medal chance for the Asian Games."
I was having a quarter-life crisis and thinking about stopping, but I felt that I had unfinished business, so I thought I would give myself maybe one or two more years to try some things out.
— Swimmer Amanda Lim
Swimming sees a surge in interest
DEAL: SSA president Lee Kok Choy (in red), holding a Singapore shirt with Liberty Insurance chief executive officer Chang Sucheng, along with (far left) swimmers Amanda Lim, Nur Marina Chan and (far right) Pang Sheng Jun. PHOTO: STRAITS TIMES
He has been in the executive committee of the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) since 2008, first as the vice-president (diving and open water), then as secretary general, and now in his second term as the president.
In almost a decade in the association, Lee Kok Choy has never seen such enthusiasm - from sponsors, supporters and people interested in swimming - as he has in the wake of Joseph Schooling's Olympic victory in Rio last month.
Companies, from taxi-booking mobile app Grab to bakery chain BreadTalk and bak kwa brand Bee Cheng Hiang have either taken out newspaper advertisements to congratulate Schooling on his win, or offered promotions for their products or services that are associated with the swimmer's Rio feat.
"Yes, interest is at an all-time high now," the 64-year-old said, on the sidelines of the announcement of Liberty Insurance as a sponsor of the Singapore leg of the Fina swimming World Cup next month.
"Everyone really wants to support the sport and work together, from the clubs to the parents and the swimmers."
Yesterday, the association announced at the Singapore Sports Museum a deal with Liberty for the 10th edition of the Fina Swimming World Cup, to take place at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Oct 21 and 22.
The deal is worth more than $100,000, and includes insurance cover for the event, as well as costs associated with its Sound of Support campaign, where the public are encouraged to submit their cheers via Whatsapp to 81769980.
These greetings will then be converted into an audio track, which the national swimmers will listen to during training using underwater earphones.
It's the insurance brand's second involvement with swimming this year, after appointing two-time Olympian Quah Zheng Wen as its brand ambassador in April this year.
Liberty's chief executive officer Chang Sucheng said: "We are very open to developing our relationship with SSA.
"This (The World Cup sponsorship) is just another step towards that, and over time, we are looking forward to expanding that." - LIM SAY HENG
SSA yet to name Lopez's successor
A month has passed since Sergio Lopez left his job as the Singapore Swimming Association head coach to join Auburn University in the US.
Before he left, the American said his assistant, former national swimmer Gary Tan, is the perfect man to take over his job, and the Singaporean also later expressed interest on the role.
But the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) has not made a decision on Lopez's replacement.
Probed on the issue yesterday, SSA president Lee Kok Choy said: "We will be announcing something in due time. We are working on it, we are working out the plan and we will come back to you when we are ready."
Meanwhile, Tan, 34, has been helming the National Training Centre (NTC) squad, who are preparing for the World Cup at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Oct 21 and 22.
He was also left in charge of the NTC when Lopez was in the US with the Olympic-bound athletes earlier this year, and trained the squad that competed at the Junior Pan-Pacific Championships in Hawaii last month.
Swimmer Amanda Lim knows Tan well, having seen him coach at the Swimfast Aquatic Club for many years. After a two-month hiatus from the pool, Lim, 23, began training under Tan at the NTC last week, and says Tan is well-equipped to be a head coach.
She said: "Gary has definitely learned a lot from Sergio... he's certainly gained a lot of experience after coming to the NTC and training by Sergio's side.
"Gary has been very supportive (since I came back to training), coming up with customised training plans for me so that I can juggle both my internship and training, and also making sure that I am feeling all right and not wanting to stop swimming.
"He is well equipped to take over, but I will leave the decision to the association. I believe they will make the best decision for us."
- LIM SAY HENG