Record-breaker Vincent Suen will double in freestyle and butterfly at the 2016 Inter-school Swimming Competition

Record-breaker Vincent Suen will double in freestyle and butterfly at the 2016 Inter-school Swimming Competition

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Wah Yan College Kowloon Vincent Suen Wai-cheong is eyeing gold medals in freestyle events.
Photo: Lesley Chan Ka-hei

Vincent Suen Wai-cheong is no stranger to breaking records in the freestyle at Division One Inter-school Swimming Competitions. But at tomorrow’s Inter-school Swimming Competition (Kowloon and Hong Kong Island), the 17-year-old from Wah Yan College, Kowloon hopes to set a new record in a different stroke – butterfly.

He’s got his work cut out for him, because he’ll face Lo Cheuk-chun, the 17-year-old butterfly expert from Diocesan Boys’ School.

“His personal best (PB) is 25.76, and I’m sure he aims to clock faster than his PB,” said Vincent. “Based on his supreme power and speed, it’s extremely hard to compete with him.”

And aside from his competition, the butterfly stroke itself offers its own challenges.


Swimming stars ready to kick on - elite swimmers share their ambitions


“The front crawl requires huge explosive power to move your arms and legs like a motor,” said Vincent. “It also needs a great deal of arm-leg coordination. But it is still a lot easier than the butterfly stroke.”

The butterfly technique is more complex and difficult to understand, Vincent told Young Post. “First, it’s my waist that produces most of the propulsion, the forces that push my body forward. Second, I have to stretch both arms to the front to push my body a bit further. Then I have to do a ‘dolphin kick’,” he explains. “In my final week before competition I will focus more on the synchronisation between my arms and legs. We also won’t skip on intensive strength-endurance training, because this will boost my stamina and my muscles.”

Vincent added that perfect form on race day is the only way to victory. “There is no room for any mistakes,” he says. “They can make a huge difference in your results. Sometimes, if you kick the wrong way, it will push you forward less, and make you go slower. If you feel this happen, you need to get back to your rhythm, stay focused, and carry on. There is no time to think.”

Vincent Suen says perfect form on race day is the only way to victory.
Photo: Cheung Siu-fung

Another way to improve your swimming skills is to imitate how a top athlete swims and trains. Vincent said he learned the butterfly technique from Singapore’s Joseph Schooling, who won a gold medal in the 100m butterfly at the Rio Olympics.

“Schooling’s movements are smooth and perfect. The coordination of his arms and legs created enormous pull which put him in a dominant position throughout the race,” says Vincent. “I have been watching videos of his races to help me improve.”

In the 50m freestyle at tomorrow’s event, all eyes will be on Vincent and his old adversary: 17-year-old La Salle College student Martin Lam Ho-yin. At last year’s competition, Vincent won gold and set a new 50m freestyle record with a time of 23.92, while Martin came second with 24.06.

Martin had his revenge, though, at the 5th Asian Schools Swimming Championship in Indonesia in May, when he defeated Vincent in the 100m freestyle, taking the gold medal with a time of 52.21. Vincent finished third in that race with a time of 52.64.

Day one of the Inter-school Swimming Competition (Kowloon and Hong Kong Island) 2016-17 had been scheduled for last Friday, but was postponed due to last week’s T8. The event finals will be held on Monday, November 7.


Bench notes

If you were asked to compete with an aquatic animal, what would it be?

Probably a turtle since they are not very fast and I have a better chance at winning.

What drink would you never give up?

I’m addicted to Coca-Cola. It’s sweet and syrupy. No other drink can boost my energy like Coca-Cola does.

Who is your favourite athlete?

Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling from Singapore. His story is inspiring and touching as he was able to beat his idol, American Michael Phelps, in the 100m butterfly at the Rio Olympics. I also hope that I can make my dream come true by racing with my idols, such as Ning Zetao, but I believe it takes time and extraordinary effort.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Monarch of the butterfly

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