MORE than 700 participants from 24 clubs around Selangor took part in the state’s third novice swim meet this year.
The grassroots competition, which was designed as a platform to encourage new and young swimmers under 12 years old to gain competitive experience, was held at Pusat Akuatik Darul Ehsan in Shah Alam.
A total of 447 heats were held at the two-day meet organised by the PADE-Supersharkz.
Perangsang Selangor was the main sponsor while Innotex and Mad Wave were co-sponsors.
The meet was supported by the Selangor Amateur Swimming Association (PRAS) and the Selangor Sports Council.
It was initiated in 2016 by the state association to bolster competitive swimming in Selangor, which has become the strongest swimming state in the country after stellar performances during the 2012, 2014 and 2016 Sukma Games which it credits to strong development programmes.
Organising secretary and PADE-Supersharkz Swimming Club vice-president Mark Chua said the success did not come overnight.
It started with grassroots programmes such as the Selangor Novice Meet that helped groom participants into state and Malaysian athletes.
“Meets like this are important in encouraging young children, and hopefully, many of them will continue to develop in the sport, not just in Malaysia, but also among the best in the world,” he said.
“It is through meets like this that we are also able to identify and develop more talents and from a younger age,” Mark added.
Last year, the Malaysian contingent for the SEA Games saw nine athletes from Selangor which also included athletes who participated in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
Even though this year’s meet was strictly for novice swimmers, some 60 state- and national-level swimmers were also involved with the meet, but as technical officials.
This, according to Mark, was to breed a culture of being involved in the sport in more than just being an athlete and instil a sense of giving back to the swimming community.
PRAS assistant secretary Marilyn Chua thanked Perangsang Selangor for supporting the association and clubs, and allowing them to host events that benefit development of competitive swimming in Selangor.
“If not for their support in the elite programmes. We would not have enjoyed the results we have had in Sukma in the past years.
“Because of them we were able to expose our swimmers to overseas competitions in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore which we never could do before,” said Marilyn.
“On top of that, they have also been very supportive of our community programmes including our water safety campaigns in schools around the state which have benefited over 4,000 students,” she added.
Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd (Perangsang) public relations, media and CSR associate director Mohd Fauzi Mohd Ghazali explained that Perangsang had widened their initial scope of targeting high performance athletes to all levels of society.
“We started off our CSR initiative for sport with the elite teams programmes; grooming them to represent the state and beyond, but we felt the need to expand the number of sports to the community at large which paved the way for our Sports For All programme.”
Mohd Fauzi also noted that Perangsang’s partnership with PADE-Supersharkz has also given opportunities to special needs children to become state swimmers.
“There are two to three swimmers who have been identified through the water therapy programme – for those with special needs – that will swim for Selangor.
“At the same time we are still committed to helping the high performance athlete but we also want to see youngsters like those here groomed for the future of sports in Selangor.”Mohd Fauzi (right) with winners of the Girls 9-10 age group 50m backstroke (from left) Kelly Anne Chew Wen Qi, Maria Melissa Osman Ali and Lee Ruo Wen.Participants in action during the Boys 11-12 age group 25m freestyle finals (Heat-10). – Photos: IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star