Former Olympian Thinks Malaysia's Swimming Scene Is Stuck In The 1980s

"The standard of Malaysian swimming seems to be getting worse and worse."

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Former Olympian Thinks Malaysia's Swimming Scene Is Stuck In The 1980s
Image: Malay Mail
Former Olympian Marilyn Chua is not pleased with the current state of Malaysia's swimming scene.

Following a mediocre performance by the Malaysian contingent at the Asian Games 2018, the Selangor coach didn't hold back with her comments.

"I believe our results at the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games and Asian Games speak for themselves. The standard of Malaysian swimming seems to be getting worse and worse," she told New Straits Times.

Marilyn represented Malaysia at the 2000 Olympics.
She also compared the national standard to the neighbouring countries, and according to her, they don't look too good.

"Singapore have already won an Olympic title, two gold at the Asian Games and 23 gold from swimming alone at the 2015 Sea Games," she added.

"Vietnam did not even have an (Olympic) swimming pool 20 years ago, now they have won 10 gold at the (2015 and 2017) Sea Games and also swept everything at the SEA Age Group Championships recently, even beating Singapore."

Chua expressed that the national swimming development programme needs a serious overhaul, starting with the grassroots level, including more competitions and better coaches education.

"A lot of things need to be changed across the board. It is much deeper than just changing the coach or what the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia are doing," she commented.

"There are a lot of underlying issues which need to be addressed and systematic changes that need to be made."

According to Marilyn, Malaysia's swimming hasn't changed much since she trained 30 years ago.
To put things into perspective, Chua added that the system here has not progressed since the 1980s. 

"We have been using the same system that we were when I started swimming 30 years ago. Yes, it worked then when we only had 200 swimmers but things have changed, technology has changed, even the kids have changed," she said.

She urged the authorities and administrators to make use of the large pool of grassroots level coaches who are keen on helping to develop the sport.

"When you go to local competitions, you can see a lot of new, young coaches many of whom are former state or national swimmers who are looking to give back. They need to be given the proper education and given a chance to gain experience."

Finally, Chua shared that the new national head coach will need to look at the bigger picture moving forward, just like how it is done in the United States and Australia.

National swimmer Welson Sim made headlines last year for setting a new SEA Games record.
"This new coach needs to look at how the sport is being developed across the country, not at just the 10 swimmers you have in the elite team," she said.

"Only then will you have a holistic programme and have a continuous supply of talent for the national team and not just wait and pray."

These words may not be easy to digest for some, but they probably need to be heard if Malaysia aspires to be known for more than just badminton and squash.

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