THE just concluded Malaysia Games (Sukma) aquatics competition in Ipoh was not just about blooding future champions but it was also a refreshing sight to see many former swimmers and divers performing their duties as coaches.
The 2000 Olympics swimmer Marilyn Chua was in charge of the Selangor swimming team while former SEA Games gold medallists Die Ung Manggang and Kevin Yeap were coaching Sarawak and Perak respectively.
The 1998 Asian Games bronze medallist Elvin Chia handled Sabah while there were others – Wong Tuck Kar for Selangor, Yap See Tuan for Pahang and Low Xue Ting for Johor.
These were former swimmers who made names at the Sukma and went on to make the country proud in the bigger stage and now, they have returned to bring up the next generation of swimmers.
And it is the hope that the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) will wake up from its slumber and recognise the change of guard and help improve the standard of these local coaches.
The standard of Malaysian swimming has declined in recent years and it lags behind Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Long-time Selangor swimming coach Ong Kooi Jin (pic) is hoping there will be better education and training for the younger crop of coaches.
“The sport is evolving and the training methods we use in the past may no longer be effective now,” said Kooi Jin, who was the coach during the 1989 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, when Malaysia bagged 11 gold medals in swimming – a feat that has not been repeated since.
“We’ve to constantly keep up with new methods, and education for the coaches is important. They are the ones bringing up the youngsters and they need to do it the right way.”
There were a total of six Games records and one national record this time.
At the last Games in Kuching two years ago, 13 records sank but there was no national record.
Tia’a Faang Der of Johor bettered the boys’ 400m individual medley national record of 4:30.85 set by Sebastian Soon of Federal Territories two months ago when he won the race in 4:30.48.
Faang Der also smashed the previous Sukma record of 4:34.14 held by Die Ung since 2002.
The 20-year-old Johor swimmer went on to break his own Games record in the 200m butterfly, posting 2:02.30 to erase his previous mark of 2:02.93.
Elynn Tan Yilin of Penang shone with five gold medals in the sprint events while Arvin Shaun Singh of Terengganu pulled off a superb win in the boys’ 400m and 1,500m freestyle distances.
Elynn, Arvin, Melaka’s 200m backstroke winner Goh Chia Tong and Selangor’s Jordan Yip will be around at the next Games in Johor in 2020.
“More records will be broken when the swimmers grow older and are able to swim faster. It will be an exciting time at the next Sukma as swimmers from other states come up to provide stronger challenges,” added Kooi Jin.
Selangor bagged a total of 20 golds in swimming at the last Games but they ended with 12 this time. Penang, Johor and Federal Territories shared the bigger spoils with six golds each.