Team SIT Reflections

February 3, 2015 in Featured by Singapore Canoe Federation

To kick off our 2015 articles, we have, as our January article, a piece about the experiences of the newest varsity canoeing team in our paddling community, Team Singapore Institute of Technology (“Team SIT”), at the Singapore Canoe Marathon 2015.

This year’s edition of the Singapore Canoe Marathon (SCM2015) saw six intrepid members of Team SIT – four current students and two recently-graduated alumni – being part of the nearly 700 paddlers who participated.

For these aspiring young paddlers with a never-say-die attitude, completing SCM2015 was a tremendous achievement, given their lack of a proper coach and having to work around other organisations’ training schedules to be able to borrow sufficient boats for their own training sessions. In the aftermath of SCM2015, we caught up with them to hear their thoughts and reflections about the event.

Jazimin: This year is only the second time that Team SIT has participated in SCM, and I am proud to have represented the varsity in both editions. From the start, we faced many challenges including the lack of boats, a coach and a structured training regime. Despite many ups and downs, we motivated each other to press on, and sought ways to train as efficiently as possible.

As SCM drew nearer, we were all excited yet nervous of what was to come. We did our best for the race and even managed to speak to guests of honour Minister for Manpower, Mr Tan Chuan Jin, and Minister of State for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, who was keen on helping our very young team obtain resources to grow further. Overall my buddy and I feel a sense of accomplishment at being able to complete the 14km race in our K2 despite being new to the boat. My simple wish for this year is for the kayaking scene in Singapore to grow even larger and for Team SIT to be able to achieve greater things. 🙂

Edward: Being completely new to the sport of canoeing when I joined SIT, participating in SCM2015 initially seemed to be a lofty goal. Having to strike a balance between training myself in a brand new sport coping with my workload as a Digipen student was definitely not an easy task. Even though my partner and I did not win any medal this time, we really valued the experience to race against so many more accomplished paddlers – I am thankful for the chance to participate in this event and would certainly do it all over again!

Erika: Having participated in SCM for the third time, the anxiety in me at the start line has always been the same as during my very first SCM and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the many boats that overcame the wind and waves at Marina. I canoed for three years during my polytechnic days and am glad to have the chance to continue this sport in university with my new team mates while pursuing a degree. It was a great feeling to represent a new school in a new environment and I certainly want to be able to train and achieve more as an individual and as part of a team.

PengSiang: I am glad to be back in the sport after not paddling for the past two years because of National Service. Due to the lack of equipment and limited training time, I knew it was going to be tough before the race. I would say that this SCM was one of the toughest as the water conditions were rough, with strong winds and waves from all directions. Although I struggled all the way from the start of the race till the end, at the end of the day, I am glad that I persisted and complete the race. Through this race, I have come to realise that I have a long way to go, but I will not give up and to continue training to compete in future races as a stronger paddler.

Collin: As working adults currently, my partner Lawrence and I were only able to train about twice to thrice a week. I am thankful to those people who supported us and allowed us to train with them to build up for the race. Despite our training schedules, it was great to have had the opportunity to do what we love and be back in a familiar environment. Despite having competed in this sport for about 8 years, every competition still makes me anxious and excited, especially at the start after the sounding of the horn.

Making time to train was extremely difficult and due to the lack of training, the marathon was physically grueling. The choppy water and strong winds certainly did not help. However, when all is said and done I feel a sense of accomplishment at having made it through SCM, and grateful to have had the opportunity to paddle competitively once again. All this would not have been possible without the support rendered to us, and I am truly appreciative.

Lawrence: During the 5 weeks that Collin and I had to train for SCM2015, time management and discipline was key. Both of us are working full time, and the fact that we have stopped paddling competitively for half a year did not help the situation. With our busy schedules, we started off with a weekly paddling session until the third week whereby we trained 2-3 times weekly. On days where we had to go for work, we had to train from 6.30 to 7.45 am. Soon enough, this timing became a norm, to allow us sufficient time to rest till evening where we will go for round two at the gym.

As SIT does not own a proper fleet of kayak, we had a hard time finding a “race-able” kayak for race day. Although we approached a number of affiliates for assistance in borrowing a kayak, we were initially unsuccessful as all their kayaks were being utilised for SCM2015. It was only a week before race day that NTU managed to rent us a kayak.

Without a decent racing kayak like what we were used to having in our polytechnic days, we definitely felt nervous when we were at the start line. But once the horn went off, we found ourselves neck to neck with a SIM kayak for about 2 km until we reach the first U-turn, where we lost out greatly due to our large turning radius. From there onwards, it was a chasing game for us, and with each turn, we lost out on distance we had put in a lot of effort to close in. When we crossed the finish line two minutes behind the champions, we knew that we had lost out on gold but felt a sense of relief at having finished in second place in our category to earn team SIT a silver medal. Nonetheless, the best part of a race is the process, and not only the results. We are glad that we took up the challenge and responsibility of representing Team SIT in our annual national marathon.