Ulsan Sports Science Secondary School Sport Exchange
The training exchange at Ulsan Sports Science Secodnary School in South Korea was filled with many unique experiences for Singapore Sports School’s Swimming Academy student-athletes. Over five days from 13 to 17 June 2019, 24 Sports School swimmers were immersed in the Korean culture as they interacted with their Korean counterparts from Ulsan during training and over meals, and also through the various traditional activities which were organised. The warmth and hospitality shown towards the Singapore contingent made the overseas stint an unforgettable one for Sports School’s swimmers. Student-athletes Eleanor Quah Yu Wei, Leroy Lock, Megan Loh and Quentin Tan Guan Ting share of their Ulsan 2019 experience which is a result of a partnership between Sports School and USSS since 2015 to offer student-athletes from both institutions developmental opportunities and exposure in sport.
Eleanor Quah Yu Wei (Artistic Swimming, Secondary 2) on meeting Asian Games finalist and USSS alumna Cho Hyun-joo
On 15 June 2019 morning, we had a combined training session with the USSS swimmers. An alumna had returned to the school for a visit and she trained with us. My teammates and I were thrilled to meet Cho Hyun-joo who was an Incheon 2014 Asian Games finalist in the Women's 800m Freestyle event. Our USSS hosts then treated us to a lovely lunch in a restaurant that specialises in duck dishes. It was a welcome meal after four sessions of strength and conditioning, and pool training since we started our exhange programme on 13 June.
Quentin Tan Guan Ting (Swimming, Secondary 2) on visiting South Korea UNESCO World Heritage sites
We had a break from sport training on Sunday, 16 July, and our hosts brought us to two UNESCO World Heritage sites – Yangdong Folk Village, and Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto.
At Yangdong Folk Village, we saw houses made of wooden structures with thatched roofs that are more than 200 years old. Aged as they are, they are still standing strong. Bulguksa, a Buddhist temple complex, and Seokguram Grotto on the slopes of Mount Tohamsan, were built in the 8th Century. Visiting these two UNESCO World Heritage sites gave me a sense of calmness because the scenery was really picturesque.
Leroy Lock (Swimming, Secondary 1) on watching a K.League game
A highlight of the five-day exchange programme with USSS was having the privilege of giving high fives to Ulsan Hyundai FC (Ulsan Tigers) players as they emerged from the dressing room to enter the field ahead of their K.League match against Pohang Steelers on 15 June.
We watched defender Kang Min-soo score in the 25th minute to give the Ulsan Tigers a lead which they held on to until the final whistle. The game ended at 1-0. The Ulsan Tigers are currently second on the League 1 Table below Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
The exchange programme created many fond memories of tough training alongside their South Korean counterparts for us, and provided exposure to different facets of the host country’s heritage, lifestyle and sport culture.
Megan Loh (Swimming, Secondary 3) on learning about traditional crafts
Besides going through the training sets determined by the USSS swimming coaches, our hosts lined up many activities to introduce us to the culture of a country that has its civilisation going as far back to 8,000 BC, and which has 200-year-old villages with descendants of the original occupants living in them.
On the morning of 17 June, we were taken through the traditional way of dyeing handkerchiefs and making fans.
We are not supposed to give away the handkerchiefs that we dyed because handkerchiefs are used to wipe away tears. The Koreans believe that if you give a handkerchief to someone, things will happen to the recipient to make him or her cry. For the handkerchiefs, we were given purple, blue and navy blue dyes to work with as these were traditional colours used in the old days when they started dying handkerchiefs. We created our own designs by using rubber bands to create a tie dye effect.
Fans are made usually made by children and given to their parents as gifts – the bigger one for their mother and the smaller one for their father. For making the fans, we were given pieces of paper of different colours to make patterns, such as flowers, which were either hand-torn or cut using a pair of scissors. These patterns were then glued onto the fans. Tearing the patterns with hands makes the design more abstract and it is known to be more beautiful. On the other hand, we can cut many more designs with scissors but the design turned out mass-produced and printed. Displayed together, our works were colourful and eye-catching.
We ended our final training session with a 4km run and relay with swimmers from both schools on the same team. It allowed us to bond despite our language barrier. It was a memorable trip during which we trained differently from what we are used to in Singapore. We also got to see the history and geography of an ancient civilisation come alive.