Category Archives: Blinkman Kids

Coach-less in Singapore

One of our biggest fears and concerns about our two year stint here in Singapore was wrapped up around our swimming.

Maria has been swimming competitively since she was 9, and Shane and Cale since they were 8.

Cale holds the Minnesota state record for 9/10 year old boys short course 50 Backstroke, and Shane holds 13 Minnesota State records (two of which have been since broken), and several Central Zone records. They have put in hours and hours practicing, sacrificed weekends to swim meets.

HASA (Hudson Area Swim Association) has a dynamic swim coach duo, husband/wife team of Bob Young and Jen Ridge. We were so happy when they decided to move to Hudson Wisconsin to take over our team.

Bob&JenPosingAt States

They changed our little team in one short year, changing the workouts and adopting the USRPT method of the Andrew family. To say that the thought of leaving Coach Bob and Coach Jen was the hardest thing we had to do is an understatement. They are not only our coaches, but have become our family as well.



For the last year we have trained under the famous David Lim and Swimfast Aquatic Club, but we have recently made the tough decision to leave the team and go independent. We are coach-less.

Since August, Shane and Cale have been training independently, using a workout that is emailed to us daily by Coach Bob. We have a wonderful training pool that we go to, and the boys have found their own motivation and discipline to push themselves. It’s remarkable really, to see these two young boys work so hard without a coach to push them.

To keep their technique in line, we use a device called Blue Core Swim.

Maria no longer swims competitively. She didn’t have a great experience with the high school program at the Singapore American School, and has decided not to swim this season, her sophomore year. I think that when we get back to the states and our coaches that she will get back into the water. For now, she comes to the pool with us two or three times a week and works out with the boys. She is a huge distraction to the boys, with her silly conversations, jokes, and her contagious laughter and goofiness. That girl brings joy and sunshine everywhere she goes.

I am so proud of and impressed with my three kids. This transition to living in Asia, trying to navigate the swimming world here … well, they have really stepped up to the challenge. We have so much to be thankful for, so many blessings. But we just cannot wait to get back to Hudson to be with our coaches and get things back to normal for the kids and their swimming.


Swimming in the USA, Summer ’14

This past summer, the kids and I traveled to back to the USA for eight weeks, our plan was to visit family and friends, but our main goal was to re-connect with our Hudson Wisconsin coaches and compete in some competitions. Our transition to swimming in Singapore has been difficult, and the kids were desperate to get in the water with their coaches Jen and Bob.

With such a short time frame to work with, we decided to schedule in as many swim competitions as possible. We landed in Minnesota on June 7th, and the boys were at the University of Minnesota at 6:30 am on June 8th. They were exhausted, jet-lagged but thrilled to be back in familiar swim territory with their Minnesota teammates. I knew better than to sign up Maria to swim, that girl was all about seeing her friends, and me? well, I was so jet-lagged it was a miracle that I didn’t fall asleep in some random stairwell somewhere in the Natatorium.


The rest of the summer went much the same way … early morning swim practices and afternoon swim practices as well. If the kids weren’t at practice, they were busy with friends. Weekends we were at competitions. It was a rush of busy-ness, and the kids were totally in their element. I loved every single second of it!!

Our second meet was at the University of Iowa for a “Swim Pink” fundraising meet for Breast Cancer.

Shane @ Swim Pink

Here is a selfie of Tina and I .. she is mom of Michael, and she is the ultimate swim mom, full of grace and humility, despite her son breaking 70+ USA National Age Group Records.


From there we went to Eau Claire Wisconsin,


Shane and my dad chilling out poolside between races:

My boys!

then back to Iowa for Speedo Sectionals,



back to the University of Minnesota for the State Championships,


and then to Oklahoma for a zone meet. Shane did well at all of his meets, but his 100 Freestyle win by out touching his competitor was the most exciting for me. It was such a close race!


Shane earned the High Points 2nd Place Award for the 13/14 boys, representing Team Minnesota.



A couple photos of Maria ( who gave permission to post photos as long as you cannot see her face. Really Maria??) and Cale:






And finally, one last selfie! Wendy and I were supposed to be taking pics of our daughters posing together, but we were sneaky and took a selfie of ourselves instead. We’re like that!


Cottesloe, Perth

Our last afternoon in Perth,  we totally enjoyed this beach.  The kids new Aussie friend Brody recommended Cottesloe Beach, said it was one of the nicest around.  He was right.  This beach is famous for it’s terraced lawns overlooking the Indian Ocean.   The water was crystal clear, the powdery sand had a few shells, and the waves were gentle.  What a beautiful place to live!!


There were many people at this beach, but most were hugging the shoreline, not going out far, despite the smooth water and lack of riptides.   We did notice a couple of swimmers who were getting in their workouts, swimming horizontal to the beach, swimming their freestyle in the ocean.   It was so peaceful, we just wanted to stay.  I could live in this beach town happily.


On our way out, we stopped at a small general store across the street from the beach, looking for any type of souvenir, when I just happened to see the headlines in the newspaper.   The article was about how there is this group of senior citizens who brave the ocean every single day at dawn, to get their exercise in.  They call themselves “the chorus line” .   The article was about how most locals do not go to the beach as they used to, because recently there was a great white shark attack at this very beach where a swimmer was killed.  They knew it was a great white because they analyzed his speedo that washed up on shore.

What???  Right here on Cottesloe Beach?!?  A quick scan of the article and I read that there have been 11 fatal shark attacks in as many years right there in Western Australia.  Yikes!!   Holy smokes, that is really scary!

And my girl Maria, you know how crazy she is, she’s afraid a shark is gonna attack her in a swimming pool, this was too much for her.  She was done, no longing looks back at the ocean, no asking to stay just a few minutes longer, she was ready to go, she was done with the beach.



UPDATE:  My sweet Aunt Vera sent me a note about the recent protests on this very beach.  I am posting a link to the news article.  It’s a must read!


Western Australia Long Course Swimming Championship

Last week I took the kids out of school so that they could compete in Western Australia’s Long Course Swimming Championships.


All three kids qualified, and since I am THAT mom, you know, the one who thinks swimming is as important as school, (if not more important)  we took off Sunday morning for a 5 hour flight to Perth Australia.  Trent couldn’t make the trip because he was headed to Hong Kong and then Bangkok instead for work.

The kids haven’t been training regularly, as they missed 12 days of practice for our Christmas vacation,  they weren’t tapered, and honestly, I wasn’t even sure if their coach here in Singapore knew they were competing, so I wasn’t expecting too much at this meet as far as times go.  I was hoping that the kids would gain valuable racing experience, and make some new friends along the way.  When we lived in the states, I could say that we were in a swimming routine.  We knew most of the kids at the meets, we were familiar with the pools, were feeling pretty comfortable.  I was thinking that this would be a great learning experience for Maria, Shane & Cale, by getting them out of their comfort zone in a foreign country, where they don’t know anyone, are unfamiliar with the Australian rules and ways of doing things, didn’t know the pool, etc.

To say this experience far exceeded our expectations  would be an understatement.  My kids stepped up to the challenge, and loved every second of this adventure.

Cale is the only one who was nervous, which in turn effected his races.  But while he didn’t have any standout swims or massive time cuts in any of his six events, he was right on where he should have been, at or about his previous times.  Couldn’t ask for more!!

Maria had three events and cut time in two of them!  But only having three events over a four day meet meant that she had a lot of down time, where she was just sitting around, waiting for her brothers to swim.  At first, she used this time to do a little homework, do a lot of reading, do a little people watching, and do a lot of boy watching.  Everyone knows swimmers have the best bodies, but add to that the bronze tans, the highlighted hair, the accent, and super casual, laid-back attitude, and wah-lah, you have the Australian swimmer.


On the third day she realized how nice the kids were, and began to make friends.  And since all the kids were interested and curious about the Americans at the meet, it was easy to make friends.  She left that meet with many new friends, and I am confident that she will continue to keep in touch with them.    And now I have a bargaining chip with her, since she desperately wants to return to Australia in April when we go for the National Championship meet.  She hasn’t qualified yet, and might not since she’s thinking of dropping swimming for a bit to try out for a school play.  Should I bring her with? I will use this April meet and work it best that I can, and then yes, I will probably take her with.   Remember, I am THAT mom, who believes that not all learning happens in the classroom.

Shane had 9 individual events to swim, and he swam fast enough in the prelims in the morning to qualify for the finals in the evening.  We would try to rest in the afternoon, between sessions.  He was pretty amped up, he was cutting time and doing well.   He quickly became the swimmer who everyone was watching, the 13 year old from America who swam fast.  The fact that he always wears a headband also makes him stand out, and at one point he was being interviewed for live streaming on the internet, and he was asked about those headbands, and why he does it.  He said, “Well, Ryan Lochte has his shoes, and I wanted something of my own”.   Love that!

Shane cut time in every event, achieved two more Speedo Sectional times (bringing the total to 4) and he broke a Western Australia All Four Corners Record in the 200IM.   He ended up with four 1st place finishes, two 2nd places, and two 3rd places, all in the 13 year old age group.  His 50 Breast stroke was classified differently since it was only a 50, and he made it to #14 overall, from kids aged 13 to 22.


An unexpected bonus for us was that we got to meet James Magnussen, Australian Olympic swimmer and the current world champion in the 100 Freestyle.  Remember at the 2012 London Olympics when Nathan Adrian won the Gold medal in the 100 Freestyle?  Well, James Magnussen took the 2nd place Silver medal, he lost to Nathan by .01 seconds.  Yes, that’s the swimmer we met.


Maria and I met him while the boys were swimming, literally in the water swimming.  Most of you know that at swim meet you will sit for hours and hours, waiting for a 30 second or 1 minute race.   Then you will wait hours and hours more for the next 60 second race.  Well, after waiting and waiting, my boys were finally up next, and heats right after each other, and I had to make the choice to watch my boys swim OR meet James Magnussen.   What do you think I did???

Of course, I met James!!  I was so excited and frazzled, feeling guilty for not watching my boys, that I completely forgot that I wanted to get a “selfie” photo, and instead got this one:


Nice mention about Shane!

“One of these things”

This picture is of all the 12 year olds who competed for Swimfast Aquatics on Sunday for the 29th Annual Junior Inter-Club Meet.   I LOVE this photo, but when I look at it, I cannot help but start singing that Sesame Street song, you know the one, 

“One of these this is not like the others, One of these things is just not the same”


Shane competed for Swimfast @ the 29th Annual Junior Inter-Club Meet

Did ya know?  Maria, Shane, and Cale love to swim!  They love to compete in the water!  With our move to Singapore, one of the biggest stressors for our family was swimming.  Would it be a good idea to leave Coach Bob and Coach Jen?  They are the best coaches we’ve ever had, and to be fair, they deserve a blog post of their own.  Look for that soon!!  But for now, Bob and Jen, we love you and miss you!!!!



Shane and Cale have joined a local swim club, Swimfast Aquatics.  This is a team with a terrific reputation, not only in Singapore, but throughout Asia, because they continually produce high level swimmers.  We are thrilled to be part of this club!  The coaches, swimmers, and parents have welcomed us into their group, and the boys have quickly adjusted to their new team.  

This past weekend, there was a very big meet for the local swim clubs, mostly for bragging rights on who has the fastest kids, age 12 and under,  training at their pool.  For each event, each club could only send their top two qualifiers.  So two months ago Swimfast had time trials, to find out who would represent them.  


The wonderful thing about competitive swimming is that it’s black and white.  You either make the qualifying time standard, or you don’t.    There is no debating on whether you were first or not, and there is no “eye balling” to gauge this … it’s black and white.  

Shane qualified to swim in the maximum allowed events (unfortunately Cale did not qualify).  Shane was looking forward to representing Swimfast, and the morning of the big meet, he proudly wore his new  “I love Swimfast” tee shirt.

First event of the day:  200 Individual Medley.  One of Shanes favorite events.  He always cleans up on this one, and as his momma, I’m gonna brag a bit here, Shane was the fastest 12 year old in the United States last year to swim this event.     


So, I was hoping that he would do well, but since we took a week from his training to go on holiday, I wasn’t too sure what to expect.  But true to form, in typical Shane style,  he took first place in this event, setting a meet record, and achieving a personal best time.  Shane then competed in the 50 Freestyle, 50 Breaststroke, and then he was part of two relays teams.  In all Shane took 1st places in every event, had 3 personal best times, and he set 3 Singapore meet records.




Shane’s girl friend Ally came to watch him, as well as her parents, so the day was even more special for my son.  To top it off, many new friends were made!!





This is my buddy Ardi, who set a new meet record, shattering the 15 year old record.  It was so exciting, and I really felt like I belonged when he came running over to me, still dripping wet, to get a high five from me.  I love all these kids and how hard they work, and be part of the excitement and share the joy he was feeling was really special.



Shane came home with some really  nice medals too!  I’ll tell ya, in Singapore, they do them up right, even engraved on the back!!  



Culture Class for the Kids, Culture Class & a Blizzard for Trent





Last week the kids had their day of learning when Liz came to our home to educate the kids about their upcoming life in Singapore.    Image


***  Yes … my walls ARE purple, although not that purple.  For some reason it is really bright in this photo.  Please don’t think my walls are painted the same color they were when I was teenager!

****** See the suitcase on the floor behind Liz?  It’s my holding place for all my spices that I cannot live without.   Garlic, onion, Italian seasoning… all for my sauce.   I’ve got priorities ya know!  

Anyhow, back to the kids …

Liz spent the entire day with the kids, teaching them, eating lunch with them, putting up with their antics, and even seemed like she enjoyed it!   She made them do silly games … all the while making them think about what their life will be like and what to expect, while living in Singapore.Image



She even made them look at a Singapore cookbook to see if there are any recipes in there that they think they would like. I don’t think they found any though.  That’s why I’m bringing the spices!!


The one of the most interesting things of the day was when Liz made the kids graph how they think they will feel during the next two years during different events and/or stages, hopefully making them aware, somewhere in the back of their minds, that this move is not going to be all easy-as-pie and smelling-like-roses.  They are going to have some ups and downs.  It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to their friends.  It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to their grandma, grandpa, pap pap, aunts, uncles, cousins.   Their swim team friends and coaches.  But then they will have the ups of the adventure, a new house, new school, new swim team.  New friends.  But then a few months will go by and reality will hit with an “oh man, we have to LIVE here”  and we may have some low days.  

Christmas might be hard, with no snow.  Oh wait, it might not be that hard, haha.  

But you get the idea, right?  

So she made them graph out how they think they will feel, and by physically seeing this graph, I think the kids got a pretty good idea what they are in for.  But they also understand that each one of us will be having some good days and some bad days,  all at different times, and we all need to be understanding and patient with each other. 

And Liz brought some candy for the kids, which I totally enjoyed.  🙂



Trent is next for culture class.  Unfortunately, he took off for Asia so fast that there was no time in his schedule to include this.   The kids and I really did learn a lot from our culture classes, and I do think that we are better prepared to live in Singapore now.  I think that we will be better residents of this country, and we will know how to respect and show respect to our fellow countrymen and our soon-to-be friends.   So, with the few days that Trent will have here in Wisconsin, between packing up, running errands, finalizing flight plans for our family and cats, swimming championships, and last runs out for Dairy Queen fixes, he is scheduled for his own culture class.   

And I’m thinking of joining him … and bringing Dairy Queen to the class!  

Culture Class & a Blizzard for Trent.