SEA Games: Of Roanne's pillow and Dylan's notes

SEA Games: Of Roanne's pillow and Dylan's notes
STATE OF THE ART: The Singapore Swimming Association’s SEA Games recovery room (left) at Swissotel The Stamford comprises an oxygen chamber, two foot massagers, two massage beds and a television hooked up to a computer for race analysis.

They will have the biggest number of supporters in the stands, among them a huge group of family and friends roaring them on.

The surroundings will be ever so familiar, they will be comfortable at the competition venue because they would have spent more time there than any of their opponents.

This is why "home ground advantage" will help Singapore's 749 athletes at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

"Home ground-advantage" also helps with the finer details.

While visiting athletes will have to contend with weight and size restrictions for their luggage, some Singapore's swimmers had the luxury of lugging several bags, and a couple of peculiar items, when they checked into Swissotel The Stamford yesterday afternoon.

Breaststroke specialist, Roanne Ho (inset), carried her pillow and bolster along, to the bemusement of her teammates.

Said the 23-year-old: "I try to be as comfortable as possible before any major Games, so this time I brought along my own contour pillow and bolster from home."

Debutant Dylan Koo, 16, included a set of his school uniform in his luggage.

The Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student said: "I have Chinese 'O' level exams on Tuesday (tomorrow), so I even brought along my notes to revise.

"The school has been very supportive of me taking part in the SEA Games and allowed me to skip my mid-year exams."

The five-star hotel in the heart of the city will be the home of all swimmers and track and field athletes, and its proximity to the Sports Hub, which houses the OCBC Aquatic Centre and the National Stadium, will almost certainly mean a hassle-free competition for them all.

Especially when big-name shopping outlets, restaurants and chill-out cafes also dot the vicinity.

Singapore swimming head coach Sergio Lopez has adopted the theme "support" of late.

The 29-strong Singapore swimming squad will focus on enhancing team spirit ahead of the competition, scheduled from June 6 to 11.

Yesterday, only Tao Li and Darren Lim - based in China and the UK, respectively - were missing from the hotel as they are due to fly in later this week.

Said Lopez: "(During our training camps) we have been trying to make them understand how the team can help the individual perform at a higher level.


"For sure each of them will have their personal demons and pressure, and over the next few days hopefully they can let those out by trusting one another."

Singapore are traditionally the most powerful swim team at the SEA Games and Lopez believes every athlete in this year's group can win a medal, while former national coach Ang Peng Siong is hoping they can mimic the 1973 group and pass the 20-gold mark.

With home-ground advantage also comes a different sort of pressure, and Dylan, who will be competing in the men's 100m fly, said: "The team bonding sessions have been helpful because I got to learn from the seniors about their experiences, and I got to know them more through talking to them.

"Swimming is an individual sport, but the thought of having your teammates cheering you on and supporting you will spur you to do better."

Support will also come in the form of the Singapore Swimming Association's recovery facility, situated in a room on the swimmers' floor in Swissotel.

The room is equipped with two massage beds, an oxygen chamber and two foot massagers.

The room's television is hooked up to a computer for a biomechanist to analyse a swimmer's race, and the bathtub has been converted to an ice bath.

All that is left is for the swimmers to take the plunge.

Said Lopez: "At the end of the day, no matter what, they have one lane (in the pool) and they will have to stand up and trust themselves."

This article was first published on June 1, 2015.
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