SINGAPORE, 7 MARCH 2017 – Drawing inspiration and learnings from a tradition of sporting excellence, the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) today unveiled its high performance plan, charting the developmental pathway for swimming in Singapore.
The National Sports Association that governs aquatic sports in Singapore states that the sport of swimming in Singapore has been growing from strength to strength over the past two years, witnessing an overall lift in both the quality and quantity of swimmers.
In 2016, the year of Singapore’s first Olympic Gold in the pool, there was also a 20% increase in participation from local athletes in high performance competitions such as the time trials and national age-group competitions, setting the current national records for 17 out of 38 long course events. The National Training Centre (NTC) has also successfully drafted its third intake of high performance athletes, signaling a robust talent pipeline for the sport.
“In the past year we have seen several breakthroughs, from the excellent showing of our swimmers at the Olympics to record high participation levels at elite local competitions. There is much for all of us to be proud of, but we must be focused on continuing to build a stronger eco-system for high performance swimming that will ensure the sustainability of our success and a brighter future for Singapore swimming,” said Lee Kok Choy, President, SSA.
The SSA’s High Performance plan for swimming will focus the SSA’s efforts in five key areas:
- Participation – Increase the quantity of swimmers by introducing a national syllabus for “Learn to Swim” coaching and also to introduce a national swimming proficiency testing system called the Singapore Swimming Proficiency Award (SSPA) to track and better identify swimming talents
- Pathway – Develop a competitive model of identifying future elite athletes across club level and at NTC for enhanced support
- Coaching education – Uplift the quality of local coaches across the sport from club level to NTC through the search for a National Head Coach and Program Director, responsible for the professional development of coaches at all levels
- Club development – Introduce the Club Excellence Program and the Podium Performance Program which will categorize clubs and provide opportunities for SSA to work with clubs to better cater to elite athlete development
- Training and development – Build out a strong roster of elite level competitions for swimmers from junior to senior level that emphasizes long-term development for the athlete
Enhancing the quality of coaching in Singapore
As part of the overall high performance plan, the SSA plans to restructure the swimming high performance team, in particular to bring in a new National Head Coach and Performance Director, who will spearhead the SSA’s efforts to uplift the quality of coaches in Singapore.
The National Head Coach and Performance Director will have a mandate to:
- Focus on building a strategic framework for clubs, to promote knowledge sharing and enhance quality of swimmers at club level
- Facilitate knowledge sharing and sharing of best practices to the local swimming fraternity, particularly local coaches, to further enhance coaching capability at club level and NTC
- Mentorship of the NTC Head Coach and Technical Director, refining the NTC training program and selection processes of athletes
- Strategizing the four-year calendar of quality local and international competitions
The SSA is currently in discussions with suitable candidates to take on the full-time position, whom the current NTC Head Coach Gary Tan and Technical Director Sonya Porter will report in to.
Developing a sustainable and robust talent pipeline through clubs
Affiliate clubs are a critical part of the long term elite athlete development pathway, providing the training environment to nurture swimmers and recruit coaches.
Recognizing an opportunity to work closer and to better support clubs, SSA will improve its partnership with affiliate clubs through the introduction of the Club Excellence Program and the Podium Performance Program to promote greater communication, engagement and mutual support.
Categorizing clubs into Gold, Silver and Bronze classifications based on the number of athletes in the National Roster, the Podium Performance program recognizes and incentivizes committed efforts by partner clubs towards the long-term development of athletes. According to their classification, clubs will receive different levels of benefits, such as grants for their high performance plan and opportunities to participate in roundtable discussions and talks with visiting directors, head coaches and technical directors.
The Club Excellence Program will see the association work more closely with the clubs at specific high performance plans for their athletes and participation is voluntary.
Looking ahead for sustainable success
Addressing what lies ahead for the sport in Singapore, Lee said, “SSA is confident that the high performance development plan, informed by past successes and challenges alike and mapping out measured, strategic approaches, will be a good reference point for local coaches, affiliate clubs and athletes to steer them in a singular direction to achieve greater excellence in swimming.”
“SSA’s high performance development plan paves the way for greater successes in the long term, enabling us to increase not only participation, but also medal targets at the upcoming SEA Games, Asian Games and Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Through the development plan, we wish to further strengthen Singapore’s position as an aquatic nation. We strive to replicate the rigor of NTC training at the club level, and aim to establish a coaching licensing system that can further promote coaching as a profession in Singapore”.