Lapping it up in the pool

Lapping it up in the pool

Ace swimmer Derick Ng Chun-nam can now train in style

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Swimmer Derick Ng says the new Olympic-size pool at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in Sha Tin will help him analyse his swimming techniques and make improvements.
Swimmer Derick Ng says the new Olympic-size pool at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in Sha Tin will help him analyse his swimming techniques and make improvements.
Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP
Derick Ng Chun-nam has his work cut out for him. The 19-year-old is a first-year student at HKBU College of International Education. He is also a swimming ace who has dominated many local competitions.

Ng specialises in freestyle and butterfly events, and has set his sights on qualifying for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016. So even as he powers through his years of study, he'll be doing the same in the pool lap after lap.

And it won't be just any pool. The completion last autumn of a new swimming pool at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in Sha Tin was a boon to Ng and his teammates. The new Olympic-size pool will help them in their high-octane training. Previously, they had to train in a 25m pool.

"The swimming season is often divided into two parts - short-course and long-course practice," he explains. "In the new pool, we can do both. That really helps us a lot in training."

The new pool is 52m long, with an extra two metres added for the timing sensor boards. The new venue is also equipped with meeting rooms, a coach's office, and 1,500-seat spectator stands.

It also has a spacious "Hong Kong team only" changing room. And best of all, Ng says, are the new rear-angled starting blocks that allow swimmers to dive further into the water at the start of races.

"The blocks were first introduced last year at the London Olympics," Ng notes. "They had been used in some major tournaments before, but we didn't have them in Hong Kong. Now we can practise diving from this new kind of stand for overseas competitions."

Helping the local ace in his progress is the team's new German coach, Martin Grabowski. At the Malaysian Open last month, Hong Kong's swimmers were in great form. "We were at least 0.2 seconds faster at the start," Ng says. "This is a crucial improvement."

Thanks to cameras placed in the water and on the ceiling of the new pool, Ng could also analyse his swimming techniques and make improvements. "I found that [in freestyle] I was a little bit inclined to the left-hand side every time after I turned my head to take a breath. I can improve my time by correcting that flaw," the swimmer says.

His first new tests will come at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Incheon, South Korea, this month and the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia, next month. He also hopes to win medals at the East Asian Games in Tianjin this October.

And he won't be training alone. The new pool at the institute comes with a nine-storey, multi-purpose building, which includes facilities for wushu, bowling and squash teams. A new rowing boathouse is in the works.


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