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Chasing Dreams On Fins

Student Feature: Vanessa Ong

Two-time Southeast Asian Games participant Vanessa Ong began her finswimming journey when she was 18 years old. She was introduced to the sport during a try-out session in 2020 and found it interesting as it was totally different from swimming, a sport in which she has been actively training in since Primary 1. Out of interest, the former Greenwood Primary student took up both swimming and finswimming at the same time at the start of 2021. However, she had to soon put a stop to training in both sports as she injured herself due to strenuous training.

“My injury put me on hold for one week during a crucial time as we were training for the Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships (SNAG). I made the decision to pause finswimming training and decided to just pursue swimming first. After competing in the SNAG that year, I realised that I enjoyed finswimming more. So, I decided to start finswimming as a new sport,” shared Vanessa who described finswimming as the Formula 1 of swimming as only authorised equipment is allowed in competition.

Her decision to switch to finswimming proved to be the right choice. When the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA) was postponed to 2022, Vanessa earned her qualification at the Games where she broke 2 national records and achieved 2 personal best timings. The following year in 2022, she represented Singapore at the 32nd SEA Games again.

“I am proud to be able to represent my country at two SEA Games. It has always been my goal and dream to compete at such a high level. I was given the opportunity to do so, which made me think that dreams do come true if you put in the hard work,” said Vanessa.

While managing her training and gunning for the SEA Games, Vanessa also had to juggle her academic commitments. In her final year, she had to focus on training while fulfilling her internship requirements at the same time. She said: “The challenge I faced as a student-athlete was to manage my studies and training. I am glad that I was able to overcome this with good time management and prioritisation. I am also grateful for the help from my mentor, teachers and coach.”

Her hard work paid off and she graduated in May 2023 with a Diploma in Business Studies and the prestigious Tai Sin Prize for 'Business Persuasion & Influence’, an award which recognises student-athlete’s outstanding academic performance.

Beyond sports and studies, Vanessa’s experience at the Sports School has also shaped her into an all-rounded student-athlete. “My most memorable experience in Sports School would be the opportunity to travel to different countries for competitions and training camps. It allowed me to broaden my knowledge and make new friends from other countries. With these experiences, I learnt to be more open-minded,” said Vanessa.

On her academic and sporting goals, Vanessa hopes to enrol into a business course at a local university. She is currently continuing chasing her dreams and is training hard for the 18th CMAS Asian Finswimming Championship in November, as well as the 33rd SEA Games in 2025.

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