Saved by YOG, diving's looking up

Saved by YOG, diving's looking up

Four years ago, diving in Singapore was in the doldrums. Starved of sustainable infrastructure, the diving team, who last represented the nation at the SEA Games in 2003, had ceased training from 2006.

Luckily for the sport, the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore prevented it from plunging deeper into the wilderness.

"In 2009, we were told by the Singapore Sports Council to start a sustainable programme, so that we could have representatives at the YOG," said Singapore diving manager Damien Ler.

"Led by our former vice-president Lee Kok Choy, we had to rebuild the sport, and plan beyond the YOG."

Engaging advisers from diving powerhouse Malaysia, the diving scene underwent a complete shake-up.

The "Learn to Dive" programme was launched in March 2009 to encourage more youngsters to take up the sport. All six divers at the SEA Games graduated from the programme.

A diving club, Aerotumblers, was also set up, while APS Swim School introduced diving in its curriculum.

National championships and a regional tournament - the Singapore Diving Invitational - were started in 2010.

The national set-up has expanded since. The seven-member national team are now supported by three feeder squads - the national juniors, the developmental squad, and the talent ID programme.

Said Ler: "We essentially started from zero, and had to get a whole ecosystem running. Now, we have four diving clubs and 30 divers in the national set-up.

"It's good progress, but we hope the numbers can keep increasing. Our aim is to close in on Malaysia, and for that we need a bigger base to compete for spots on the national team."

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