Category Archives: Swimming

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.

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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.

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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.

http://blucoreswim.com

http://www.HudsonSwimTeam.org

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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.

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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.

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From there we went to Eau Claire Wisconsin,

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Shane and my dad chilling out poolside between races:
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My boys!
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then back to Iowa for Speedo Sectionals,

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back to the University of Minnesota for the State Championships,

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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!

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

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

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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!

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Wanken Chiropractic

Shane has had some pain issues going with his shoulder. Pretty common problem for swimmers.

He was fine, going full steam ahead, and after finishing the Australian Nat’l Championships in April, he took a two week long, much needed break from swimming.

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That is when the pain started. It was like he finally relaxed, and could feel the pain. Kind of like the rest of us, we go on vacation and get a cold, right?

I took Shane to physio and the chiropractor here in Singapore, but he found no relief. As soon as he would get in the pool, he would feel pain again. He was getting out of practice early, skipping sometimes even altogether. So once we landed in the USA in June, the first thing on my to-do list was to take care of Shane, get him back at 100%.

And that’s where Dr. Jay Wanken entered the picture.

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He’s a swim dad on our USA club team, a strokes & turns official and he’s a chiropractor. When I took Shane to see him, he immediately connected why Shane’s shoulder was hurting, and he knew how important swimming is to our family. He knew that he had to get this taken care of for us, and there was no messing around. Shane had some big meets scheduled for the summer, one of the main reasons we even came back to the states for the summer.

To make a long story short, we saw Dr. Jay almost every day, all summer. Shane would go to morning & afternoon practice, and then go straight to Dr. Jay’s. He would do some adjustments on Shane’s spine,

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then his shoulder

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and then use the low-level laser therapy on him. This is the newest technology, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, you should read up on it. I’ll add a link to the info at the bottom of this post for you. I have searched high and low here in Singapore for chiro, physio, or doc who might use this laser in Singapore, and I even called the company. It’s just not here yet.

The last thing that we used was this Voltaren gel, it’s an anti-inflammatory gel, that we rubbed into his shoulders. I don’t know if it worked or not, but Shane seemed to think this helped, and so we will continue to use it. And yes, I was able to get a year supply approved and paid for by our insurance. (In Singapore we can get some of the same medicines that are dispensed in the USA, they may not quite the same, but somewhat similar at least. I just couldn’t take the chance of not being able to get this gel, so yes, I loaded up!!)

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And this combo of adjustments, laser therapy, the voltaren gel, and getting some technique work with his coaches worked wonders on him!! As soon as he get back to the USA, we’ll be back to our daily visas with Dr. Jay!

http://www.wankenfamilychiropractic.com
http://www.erchonia.com/low-level-laser-therapy

Australian National Age Group Championships

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What an adventure in swimming Shane is having. In April he was scheduled to swim in Sydney in the Australian National Championship meet. Cale and Maria didn’t qualify for this meet, but they managed to convince us that they should take a week off from school so they could support their brother. Trent was scheduled to be working in New Zealand the week before, so he met us in Sydney.

The meet was to take place at SOPAC, Sydney Olympic Park, site of the 2000 Olympics.

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It was so inspiring to walk down the Hall of Fame, and see some of the memories, and all the records set in this pool.

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Shane qualified to swim in 10 events throughout the six day meet, so with preliminaries and finals he had 18 races. He did quite well, as he wasn’t tapered for this meet, and this was by far the biggest competition he’d ever participated in. Swimmers from all over the world were here to compete, including teams from South Africa, Great Britain, Greece, Guam, New Guinea, Peru, Thailand, Zimbabwe, the Canadian National Youth Team, the New Zealand National Team, along with 281 Australian teams.

It was pretty neat to see our home team from Hudson Wisconsin represented at such a big meet. Shane was able to swim for HASA (Hudson Area Swim Association) with special permission granted by USA Swimming. Since he was a visitor at the meet, he was eligible for medals, but the Aussies would still get their medals.

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Shane’s best events during the week were the 100 meter Breaststroke, where he took 1st place overall, with a time of 1 minute, 9:04 seconds, and also the 200 Individual Medley, were he placed second with a time of 2 minutes 14:29 seconds, and the 200 breaststroke, where he also took a second place, with a time of 2 minutes 16:52 seconds. Shane was so excited to be awarded his medals on the podium for all three of these events, that none of us will forget how thrilled we were for Shane.

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He made so many new friends this week, including his “mom friend” Veronica, Elijah Winnington, and of course he reconnected with our Perth friends Brody and Raiffe. Shane and Elijah are close friends after only knowing each other a week, and I have a feeling they will be lifelong friends.

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By the way, Elijah broke a couple Australian national record during the week. Shane was so happy for his new friend! Also at this meet we watched Kyle Chalmers break several national records held by Ian Thorpe! What an exciting week!

A big thank you to the West Brisbane Swim Club for welcoming Shane into their team for the week!! You guys are awesome!!

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And yes … Shane ALWAYS wears a bandana. He’s been doing this for nearly two years now, and it’s become his “thing”, it’s what he is recognized for and known for. It’s so fun to see him develop his own brand! It’s brilliant! And even more fun to see kids copy him and emulate him! In his first meet back in the states, (next week, June 8th) Shane will proudly wear his new Australian headband given to him by his mom-friend Veronica!

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Python in the pool

Yup, you read it right!  A very long reticulated python slithered into the competition pool!   This is NOT the pool where my kids regularly practice, but they HAVE competed in this pool, on two different occasions.

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No, I did NOT take these pictures!  I did NOT see this snake in person.  But, seeing these pictures have been cause enough to have nightmares several nights in a row.  No kidding.  This terrifies me.  But you can see from the photos, two of which I got from Instagram, a social networking site, that the kids here don’t seem to be too nervous around these creatures!

Here is the article I found on about this exciting event:

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/pythons-singapore-what-you-should-know-about-these-snake

 

Selfie with the famous Ang Peng Siong

APS.  Has two meaning in Singapore.

APS is the famous Ang Peng Siong.   He held the world swimming record in 1982 in the 50 Meter freestyle with a time of 22:69.  He was all set to go to the Olympic games in Moscow and represent Singapore, but that year the Olympics were boycotted.  He was disappointed, yes, but you know that when one door closes, another opens, right?  So instead of the Olympics,  the top swimmers went to Hawaii to have a meet there, and Ang was the only non-American to make the top 8 final heat in the 50 freestyle.  The swim community took notice, and right then and there he was offered a scholarship to the University of Houston.

As he continued to tell me this story, he went on to talk about how he was only 18, in a foreign country, trying to figure things out, trying to learn how the Americans ran their swimming, was struggling … just as we Blinkmans living in Singapore.  This great man related his own life story to mine!

APS is also Aquatic Performance Swim Club  here in Singapore , which Ang Peng Siong started & runs.

I met him when we first landed in Singapore, when I was checking out swim clubs, and again in January.  He is one of the kindest, most warm hearted, humblest gentlemen I have ever met.  He denies that he is famous, waves me away when I fuss over him.

I am proud to call him my friend!!  I took this self of him & I at the SNAG meet in March.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ang_Peng_Siong

 

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Singapore Nat’l Age Group Swimming Championships … SNAGS

Swimming in Singapore has been very interesting and exciting for us.  In so many ways Singapore Swimming is similiar to USA Swimming, but then in so many ways, completely different.   Adjusting to swimming in Singapore has been a big stressor to our family, as so much of our lives revolve around swimming.    All three of our kids have been competitive swimmers, since the age of 9.  That’s that last six years.  We spend hours at the practice pool, long weekends at meets.  We invest our money into swim gear,  team fees, traveling fees.  We choose to do this because our kids love to compete in the water.

The biggest difference that we have found is that in the USA, there are competitions just about every weekend.  We used to compete at least twice a month, sometimes more.  Our family believes that you need to compete regularly, in big meets, and in the little ones as well.  This gives you the experience you need, diving off the blocks,  turns,  pacing, it gives you the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.

In Singapore, there is only ONE meet a year that counts.  The Singapore National Age Group championship.  SNAGs.  When we first landed in Singapore back in August, we were told about this meet, and thought, great!  We love championship meets!  Looking forward to it!!  But we didn’t realize that this was THE ONLY MEET of the year.

We were really confused, and it took us a little while to learn, to figure out how things are done in Singapore.  Our first learning experiences were when our swim club was participated in a couple “Invitational Meets” hosted by other swim clubs here in Sing.  Of course we wanted in!!     We had to learn that these little invite meets that don’t count because there are no officials, no touch pads, and the coaches don’t even attend.  That was shocking to me, I just couldn’t believe that a coach wouldn’t go to a meet.  But that also made me realize why my boys were the only two representing their team.  Why bother to go to a meet where your coaches don’t even bother to go?  Where your times don’t count?  Where your teammates don’t go?  There’s no team bonding, no times recorded, no feedback from coaches.  It’s a day in the hot sun.  For nothing.

But that’s not how my family thinks, we believe that every meet counts, every race counts.  We gain experience each time.  So we continued to participate at the small invite meets, alone.  I would film the races, upload to youtube, and have our coaches back in the states take a look at the videos.

So finally, the SNAG meet hype begins to build, in January.  The kids are getting excited, the parents excited, the coaches excited.    There are two meets that lead up to SNAGs, the “Time Trial Meets” where the kids swim to get their qualifying times.  Shane and Cale both swam in the Time Trials, and then only Shane competed in SNAGs.  Cale could not swim, even though he was fully qualified, because of his broken nose.

What was really shocking to me, is that the coaches didn’t attend the Time Trials meet in January.  In my mind, I was thinking, ok, we finally have officials, times are going to count.  Coaches will be here, to coach the kids, watch them race, give them feedback on performance.

Nope, no coaches attended.  As you can imagine, now I am losing my mind.     But this is how it is done here in Singapore, at least with the team we have chosen to train with while living here.  This is how they do things.  It’s different from what we are used to, like so many aspects of our lives now that we are living in Asia.  I tell my kids,  over and over, “this is different, not bad.”  It’s become my mantra, our motto.

So with some back and forth between myself and Shanes coaches,  I have a better understanding of how they do things, and they have a better understanding of my/Shanes expectations.   We met somewhere in between, coaches attended part of the Time Trial meet in February,  and life continues smoothly here in Singapore for us.

For the SNAG meet, with special permission from USA Swimming, Shane was able to represent his home club from Hudson Wisconsin,  HASA.  This was so that his times could be counted and  recorded in the USA Swimming database, which was important for Shane because he has been hoping to achieve more Speedo Sectional time cuts.

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Shane, who only turned 13 in January, was competing in the boys 13  & 14 age group,  had  9 events through the course of the five day meet, so between prelims and finals Shane swam 15 times. He had  personal best times in 11 of the swims, including taking 1st place wins in the 200 meter Individual Medley with a time of 2:14:02, the 100 meter Backstroke with a time of 1:01.87, and the 200 meter Backstroke with a time of 2:16.31.  Shane also took a 2nd place finish in the 200 Breaststroke, a 3rd place in the 100 Freestyle, a 4th place in the 400IM, a 5th in the 100 Breaststroke, a 6th in the 200 Freestyle, and a 7th in the 400 Freestyle.

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Not only did Shane have a good experience competing in Singapore, but he also made a lot of new friends, and really enjoyed hanging out with his Singapore teammates.  A couple of the Swimfast kids broke Singapore National records at this meet, and it was really exciting to cheer on these kids and celebrate with their families.  We were so honored to watch our new friends, Jing-E,  Michael, and Darren break Singapore National Records!!  It was so exciting!!

http://www.swimming.org.sg/Swimming/High_Performance/records.htm

These kids train hard all year long, swim at 5:30 am before school and then return at 4 pm after school.  They get up early on Saturday to train, and their coaches put in long hours as well.  They are remarkable, dedicated to the sport of competitive swimming, and we are thrilled to be part of their team while we live in Singapore!  Thank you Swimfast Aquatics for accepting the Blinkmans into your swim family!!

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http://www.sportsschool.edu.sg

http://www.swimfast.com.sg

http://www.hudsonswimteam.org/Home.jsp?team=wihasa