Tales of a Triathlete #1 – The sun, the sea, and the sand!

BENJAMIN OOI – Stepping out into a light ocean breeze, an air of familiarity swept over me. I reminisced the countless early mornings I spent here as a budding triathlete with SMU Aquathlon. This was where we came to for most of our Swim-Run brick training, more than a couple of races, and featured often in my earlier triathlon exploits.

7AM, CNY Day 2 – Tanjong Beach, Sentosa Island

It has been a while, though, since I was last here.

(c) ONEathlete

I had meant for the day to be a catch-up of sorts with some of my closest supporters (and expert advisers) who had my back as I traveled to Hawaii for the Ironman World Championship in 2017. With that in mind, it was fitting to have this CNY catch-up over an easy run and relaxed swim here at Tanjong Beach.

(c) ONEathlete

Conversations usually begin around our training, recent/upcoming races as we limber up, and it continues to flow as the kilometers unraveled. We vented about injuries, shared the latest in sporting advances, discussed race plans and pretty much everything under the morning sun for an hour, because that’s how a ‘conversational-pace’ session is done right?

(c) ONEathlete

Post-run, we work on our various strengthening exercises on grass then head into the water to cool off and loosen up. It’s my favorite part, perhaps borne out of a childhood of competitive swimming and water polo. There’s something simply so tranquil and pleasant about a lazy backstroke across the bay. Perhaps I am still more at home in the water than on land.

Cooled down and washed up, we completed the morning with a satisfying brunch. In the company of fellow foodies, I had only one concern — just please, good air-conditioning!

(c) ONEathlete

Ben Ooi is an Ironman Triathlete and younger sibling to two national water polo sisters. He qualified to compete in the World Ironman – World Championships 2017 in Kona, Hawaii. The SMU alumnus is currently working in the private sector and would love a South American holiday, anytime.

“We were hoping our experience and teamwork would make up for the lack of fitness”

BELINDA OOI – This year, for the first time, my ex-national team teammates and I came together to form a team to compete at the Singapore Water Polo National League.  The tournament took place over 4 weekends from January – February 2019.

Forming up to attack

I have always enjoyed playing water polo and was very excited to play (somewhat) competitively again. The other teams competing in the league consisted of various university and junior colleges teams so we were mentally framing our approach to this tournament as a matchup of fitness vs. experience.

Water polo is a very intense sport that requires speed, strength, and skill. While most of my teammates no longer train/play water polo regularly, we were hoping that our tacit understanding and experience from years prior of playing together would somehow make up for our lack of fitness.

It’s important to always keep your head above the water when you’re swimming so you know what’s going on!

Personally, I have to thank the gym workouts and run training over the past few months for getting me fit enough to sprint up and down the pool during critical junctures in the game. I also pleasantly surprised myself with a number of effective drives and even scored a few goals!

The endurance from my training runs was particularly helpful during one of the games when every one of us on the team could not afford much rest as we did not have enough substitutes.

Lots of aggression going on!

The league started off in a round-robin format before progressing to the knockout stages. My team got through to the finals where we beat NUS 15 – 4. What’s amazing to me was that we still played together like the team we were, even though we’ve stopped water polo training for so long!

My team lining up before our finals against NUS
The obligatory team shot before the match
Team talk during a rest period
Team cheer lead by our esteemed cheer captain Low Seet Teng

The tournament was a great opportunity for the entire Water Polo community to meet up and also for the national team coaches to identify up-and-coming young talents!

Us with the impressive youngsters from team NUS!

Hopefully with more leagues like this, our younger girls will be able to develop the skills and match experience they need to bring Singapore Water Polo to greater heights!

Staying hydrated with 100PLUS, and the 100PLUS Ambassador, Mok Ying Ren

Belinda Ooi is a national water polo player, and wife of National Marathoner, Mok Ying Ren. The physiotherapist by day is not short of stellar performances on the pool, road, trail, or for the matter, at home.