SEA games 2015: Don't rest on your laurels, warns Lim

After coaching national teams for 22 years, David Lim has moved on to give younger coaches the opportunity to develop. He will continue to be technical director at Chinese Swimming Club and director at Swimfast Aquatic Club.

Just one day into retirement, David Lim could not help it as he strayed away from talking about a new chapter in his life.

Instead, he returned to analysing the national team's recent performance at the SEA Games.

The former swim coach told The Sunday Times: "The 23-gold haul indicates we are heading in the right direction, but, if you break it down, there are only five individual gold-medal winners.

"We must be asking ourselves where are our replacements, because the next Games will be twice as hard. The other countries took a heavy beating this time, and they are not going to sit back and do nothing.

"Everybody's on a high now, but the key is not to rest on our laurels, but to continue to work hard.

"Winning the relays showed that we have depth, so it's important to keep bringing up the quality of the other swimmers to a world-class level."

Having woken up to the familiar whiff of chlorine - first as a swimmer, then as a coach - for more than four decades, the 48-year-old's obsession with the sport is understandable.

But Lim knows it is time to retire, after 24 years of patrolling the pool deck, stopwatch and clipboard in hand.

He said: "It's a decision I made three years ago. I've been on national teams for 22 of those 24 years of coaching, if I don't move on, the younger coaches will never have the opportunity to develop and grow. Luckily, I ended on a high note."

He will still be involved with the sport in his role as a technical director at Chinese Swimming Club and as a director at Swimfast Aquatic Club, which he founded.

Over the years, Lim's club has produced numerous national swimmers, such as Quah Ting Wen and Amanda Lim.

Asked about his success, Lim said: "If I have to say, I think it's more of the interpersonal relationships I developed with the swimmers, caring for their lives and not just about their swimming. That makes a huge difference."

Freshly-minted SEA Games breaststroke champion Roanne Ho said: "Coach David has really influenced Singapore swimming and his absence will definitely be felt.

"He's more than just a coach, often taking an interest in other aspects of our lives. I will miss having him on the pool deck during competitions."

Having coached the national team at numerous major meets, the three-time Sportsman of the Year said the 2004 Olympics in Athens was one that stood out, as it marked the return of the Olympics to its birthplace.

Now, he is looking forward to spending more time with his only child, daughter Madison.

Said the 19-time SEA Games gold medallist: "Maddy is still young and I've missed so many of her 'firsts' because of swimming. I don't ever want to miss any again."

This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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