Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Star : Welson, a swimmer in the fast lane to success


LIFE was tough for national swimmer Welson Sim when he was a child.

Welson Sim showing off the host of medals and awards he has won in his young swimming career. - Filepic

Diagnosed with asthma in his early childhood, he had to take things easy and not exert himself.

Luckily for him, his mother introduced him to swimming when he was 10 years old. And the rest, as they say, is history.

“I was asthmatic when I was young and my mom wanted me to do something to overcome it,” recalled the 17-year-old Welson.

“She told me to take up swimming ... I gave it a try and it worked wonders!

“Over the years, my asthmatic condition got better and now I’m cured.

“Being an asthma patient should not stop anyone from living actively or competing at the highest level in sports. I’m a living proof.”

Welson took to swimming like a duck to water, showcasing his talent by mastering all four strokes in just six months.

By the time he turned 12, he was in the Sarawak state swimming team.

The Kota Samarahan lad did not take long to establish himself as a rising star in the national scene.

In 2012, at the age of 15, Welson came of age.

He made a big splash in the 14-16 age-category at the National Schools (MSSM) swimming championships by bagging six gold medals.

A month later, he impressed at the national age group championships – bagging another six gold medals. He also set a new meet record in the 200m freestyle, clocking 1:57.84 to erase the previous mark of 1:58.24 set by another Sarawak star, Daniel Bego, in 2004.

“It (2012) was a fantastic year for me as I did very well in both the MSSM and national age group championships. It gave me a lot of confidence heading into the Pahang Sukma that year. Although I was up against older opponents, I still managed to pick up two silvers and one bronze,” said Welson.

Welson’s exploits did not go unnoticed. In 2013, he earned a national call-up. Under the astute guidance of national coach Paul Birmingham, Welson continued to improve by leaps and bounds.

He became a regular in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay quartet and was involved in all the five national record-breaking feats over the past 12 months.

The quartet also won a gold at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Palembang, Indonesia, and a silver at the Myanmar SEA Games last year.

At last month’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the four improved the national record twice in a day. They clocked 7:26:98 in the heats and 7:26.74 to finish seventh in the final.

The quartet are now bound for the Incheon Asian Games in South Korea from Sept 19-Oct 4 and they will be seeking to rewrite the national record again.

At the recently-concluded Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in China, Welson earned his first individual national record when he clocked 8:15.84 in the 800m freestyle to smash Kevin Yeap’s mark of 8:18.79 set at the 2011 World Championships in Rome.

Despite all his accomplishments in the 18 months with the national team, Welson is adamant that he has achieved nothing yet.

“I’m not satisfied yet ... I’m hungry for more success. I’m pretty sure every swimmer has an ultimate goal. My aim is to compete in the Olympics,” he said.

“I hope to realise my dream at the 2016 Rio Games. If not, then I’ll target Tokyo 2020.

“Before calling it quits one day, I’d love to leave a legacy by breaking all the national freestyle records.”

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