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Pesta Sukan 2021: On First-Race Jitters, Covid-19 Challenges, Maturity, and Growth

The swimming races for Pesta Sukan 2021 (Festival of Sports in Malay) were finally held after an initial postponement due to the worsening Covid-19 situation.


Over two weekends (28 & 29 August, 4 & 5 September), seven members of Red Dot Penguin’s Learn to Train (LTT) squad took part in their first-ever competitive swim meet. The swimmers in the squad, which was created in April 2021, took part in this event so that they could increase their exposure to races and to the local swimming scene.


Coach Lockie said that he hoped this event would “grow their love and passion for fast swimming and get them excited to come for swim practice.”

LTT Trainings before the recent lockdowns

The road to Pesta Sukan 2021 was not an easy one. Apart from the event itself being postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions (it was supposed to take place in August), LTT training was also severely disrupted by Phase 2 Heightened Alert.


Rather than the group training sessions that were planned, some of the training had to be done via Zoom or conducted 1-1. It was a test of the members’ adaptability, but they rose to the challenge and continued working hard despite the disruptions.


The excitement of being able to race motivated the young swimmers of the squad to train hard.


They took part in 3 different events, namely the 50m Freestyle, 50m Breaststroke and the 50m Backstroke. The 50m events were selected because it was a good distance for a first-time exposure to swim racing.

Thankfully for the parents of the squad members, the sign-up process for the races through activeSG was quick and smooth. Cai Hong, the mother of Rui Xuan, was particularly supportive of her daughter taking part in the race. “As a parent, I would always encourage my child Ruixuan to try anything and everything.”


This being her first competition, Rui Xuan was excited but jittery because she did not know what to expect. She was unfortunately disqualified in her first event (50m breaststroke) but had to learn to quickly get over the disappointment and continue preparing for her next event.

Rui Xuan’s tenacity through these difficulties was inspiring to witness, and her courage really shone through the 50m backstroke race. As she would have to swim with her back facing the wall of the pool, she was initially apprehensive to participate because she did not know when to stop swimming.


Cai Hong shared that she encouraged Rui Xuan “that she was good at backstroke and reminded her to count the strokes after the flags to know when she is reaching. In the end, she decided to give it a try and was happy because she completed the race in good time.”

Rui Xuan receiving the band for entry to Pesta Sukan

Another parent, Poh Kim, saw that her daughter, Ziying, grew immensely through this competition. She became more mature in handling challenges and learnt to adapt quickly to changes as well as new experiences. The races also bolstered her confidence and courage. Healthy competitions such as these play an instrumental role in helping children develop endurance and self-esteem. Through interacting with fellow competitors, children also can learn the value of hard work and have greater motivation to improve their own skills.

As a whole, the competition was an overwhelmingly positive experience for these young swimmers. Their enthusiasm infected the LTT coaches, who were beyond excited to bring the squad to this meet.

The first of many to come!


At Red Dot Penguins, we accept children from 5-8 years old into our Learn To Train squad. Run by experienced developmental coaches, this bridging program equips aspiring swimmers with various skills needed for competitive squad training. Skills such as race starts, turns and underwaters are taught alongside dynamic warm-ups, basic strength and conditioning work. If your children love swimming quickly and are confident with their basic strokes, this pre-competitive programme will take their swimming to the next level.

Contact us for more information on how to join or a free assessment.

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