“You’ve got what it takes, but it will take everything you’ve got” —Sherilyn Ho, Captain of the Girls’ Swim Team
‘On your marks… get set…’
Instead of runners on a track, spectators at OCBC Aquatic Centre were treated to a different race — one of strokes, plunges and backflips. On Thursday, 20th June, the Victorian swim team participated in the Meet Programme at the 58th National School Swim Championships, where various races such as the 50-metre stroke were featured for swimmers from different age groups. As it was not the final day of the championships, the centre was not fully filled. However, that did not dampen the spirit of the event. The atmosphere was filled with immense excitement and anticipation, and cheers from the competitors’ parents, teammates and fellow schoolmates reverberated throughout the entire stadium. Several of the competitors practically flew through the water, often finishing a few seconds faster than the other swimmers. This was an incredible feat considering that even a millisecond made a large difference in the outcome of the results. The Victorian Press members even witnessed the decoration of two participating female swimmers with silver, both coincidentally achieving the same timing. Despite meeting with incredibly fierce competition — where the number of competitors from the other schools were almost double the number of Victorians entered — our Victorians showed tremendous confidence and determination.
Friday received enthusiasm that was tenfold.
A sense of poignancy hung in the air on Friday — it was the last race that the team would be having together. Coupled with that was an air of excitement and anticipation, as the swim team took their seats at the back of the grandstand. As expressed by Mr Goh Eng Chai, the Swim teacher in charge, the ability to have qualified for the swim finals and compete in an arena traditionally dominated by other stronger schools like Raffles and ACS(I) was already a source of great pride and joy for the team. When asked, he told us that his expectation for the team was to be ranked from top 5 to top 8, as the higher positions were usually taken by the bigger players. With 15 swimmers entering 20 events, the VJ swim team’s performance this year was indeed one of its finest! Despite the presence of an overwhelming sea of supporters from ACSI and Raffles waving their flags and screaming their cheers in unison, the Victorian swim team was not to be outdone. As each competitor took their ready positions, the rest of the team screamed out their names.
Our swimmers engaged in arduous training in preparation for this season. They held trainings thrice a week, twice at Geylang East ActiveSG Swimming Complex. There, they focused on improving their techniques, stamina and speed. Moreover, closer to the season, our dedicated swimmers also hold self-initiated trainings. Despite having a low budget and an absence of a proper pool to train in, with a competent coach, VJ Swim managed to do their best and qualify for the finals.
Our VJ swimmers fought valiantly and sped through the waters, swimming with clear goals in their minds. However, despite the admirable display of strength and courage put up by the swimmers, some competitors, sadly, got disqualified. Although we did not manage to win, the Victorian spirit was kept high. Fellow teammates cheered loudly for one another, screaming out names and words of encouragement, spurring their friends on. The energetic cheering by the VJ swim team, coupled with the perseverance and determination the competitors showed, was incredibly inspiring and commendable.
Spirits soared higher as one of the event organisers started galvanising the schools for a cheering competition. The VJ swim team immediately stood up and screamed vociferously with all their might. With voices brimming with pride, the team, together with the supporters rolled out cheer after cheer. Despite being considerably smaller in number compared to the other schools like Raffles, their voices filled up the place, giving the team a larger than life presence. Initially, the organiser told us that they were seated too far back to give us the prize, however, at the team’s persistent cheering, he became so impressed by their determination that he relented and gave the team a swim shirt with the signature of the organisers on it.
As aptly put by Sherilyn, the Girls’ Captain, “we may not all be outstanding swimmers, but we have a supportive team spirit”.
Exhilaration peaked during the last race of the day — the boys’ relay. As soon as the first Victorian swimmer dived into the pool and within his first few strokes, it was clear that he had pulled ahead of two other schools — CJC and TJC. Never missing a beat, the other relay members dived smoothly into the pool, one after another, with broad confident strokes, enlarging the gap between VJ and the other schools. By the time of the final lap, the entire VJC swim team was on its feet, shouting and cheering. Sure enough, the final swimmer of the team pulled through the water, slapped his hand onto the finishing mark, and emerged an unexpected 6th out of 8th place — the best result that the team had achieved that day.
At 5pm, the team gathered with bated breath to hear the results at the closing ceremony. Although they did not come in 4th place as they had hoped, there was still a strong sense of pride and achievement amongst them as they had put in everything they had got.
For the VJ swim team, the day finally culminated in an outing at Changi Airport. Following their yearly tradition, the juniors treated the seniors to a meal. It was a poignant, emotional end for the J2s.
With a wistful smile on her face, Sherilyn shared her final thoughts about the day’s event. “For the J2s especially, it was a very sentimental last swim as a team. As this was our last race, we wanted to do it with no regrets.” During her event, it was a nice closure for Sherilyn, as she indeed managed to break her personal best (PB). “I just want to tell the team that as the girls’ captain, I have seen how we’ve grown throughout this whole journey, and I am very proud of how far we have come. We have our best throughout, overcame fear and broke our PBs. This has been one of our best performing years, but I am sure there are better years ahead.”
Kum Kai Weng, the Boys’ Swim Captain, expressed his pride in the team after Thursday’s events. “A lot of [the J2s] joined last year and did not know how to swim a lot of strokes, like some came in and only knew how to swim basic free-style. But in the end, I see some of them competing for IM (individual medley, in which participants swim one lap of each four basic strokes) and some of them competing for other strokes like long distance free and long distance breast, it is not easy to do so.”
Tears and sweat — it’s all the same in the pool. The seconds spent in the pool cannot compare to the months of hard work and toil our swimmers endured ever since they had begun their training for the championships. Once again, we would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the VJ Swim Team for completing their season — the resilience our swim team has shown is something that should truly be commended for.
Davene Lye, 17A11
Djulian B Naval, 17A11
Megan Mah, 17A11
Lim Xiao Hui, 17S33
Snehaa Rajkumar, 17S62
Ng Jia Yeong, 17S64