Inaugural Homeschool Swim Meet 2023

The Inaugural Homeschool Swim Meet marked a significant milestone in the homeschooling community. Bringing together homeschooled students of all ages and skill levels, this event aimed to promote physical activity, camaraderie, and healthy competition among homeschoolers. Mooted by Veil Ng, a homeschooling mother of two competitive swimmers, this Swim Meet allowed homeschoolers to participate in a swimming competition. In Veil’s words, “this is the homeschoolers’ version of the National School Games”. Elaine Eo, a veteran homeschool mom, covered the event on behalf of Homeschool Singapore.

Inaugural Homeschool Swim Meet 2023

by Elaine Eo, Guest Writer

The sweltering heat did not stop our young, eager swimmers from pouring into the Sports Lifestyle Center for the inaugural Homeschool Swim Meet on 26 October 2023. Located at Bukit Merah, this centre houses one Olympic-size Competition Swimming Pool and an equally large training pool for beginners. The latter served as an excellent warm-up and fun pool for participants and their younger siblings. Well-equipped with separate toilets and showering facilities for younger and older children and adults, the Sports Lifestyle Center also has a cafe and seating area for parents with babies and toddlers. Benches lined the rest of the pool area for spectators to perch on while enjoying the meet.

The pools opened at 9.30 am for warm-ups. With more than half the number of participants new to competitive swimming, many swarmed to the eight diving blocks to practice their dives under the watchful eyes of parents. An hour later, participants were directed to lane one, with some migrating to the training pool, which remained open for warm-ups throughout the entire meet. In the meantime, timers for the events (two were dedicated per lane for accuracy) were briefed while the ushers prepared the participants for the first three events.

Image credit: Faheem Sonaz Pictures

The meet kicked off with the 100m freestyle for the 9-10 year olds. The excitement was unmistakable. Helmed by four boys, it was a close fight. Dylan Koh came in for the first event of the meet at 1.36 minutes. The event was followed by the 100m freestyle and breaststroke events for the older groups and 50 m freestyle and breaststroke events for the 8-and-under group. 

The 50m freestyle and breaststroke events for 9 to 10-year-olds had the most sign-ups, requiring two heats to complete the race. Breaststroke was one of the most challenging strokes to execute “legally”, as evident in this swim meet given that the breaststroke events have the highest number of disqualifications. 

The only butterfly event in the swim meet was the 50m butterfly for the 11 to 12-year-olds, an eye-opener for most young swimmers. Butterfly is a challenging stroke for most beginner swimmers. Avel Chua, Joshua Xie and Johan Larson impressed the audience with excellent executions of the stroke and power to finish the race well.

Shortly after, we had the kickboard race for the 8-and-under group. There was overwhelming support for the little ones who gave their all to get to the finish line. Indeed, there was a moment of tension when we observed one of the participants not progressing for a while. However, she eventually caught the momentum and executed the proper kicks to propel herself forward. Kudos to the brave little ones!

Younger homeschoolers were drafted into the 50m kickboard event created just for the swim meet. The organisers hoped this would nurture their competitive spirit and encourage future participation. Image credit: Faheem Sonaz Pictures

The swim meet ended with an exhilarating and memorable award presentation. There were some clear winners, but others also received an award for the first time at a swim meet. It would encourage the children to continue swimming and strive for better performances the next time.

The inaugural homeschool swim meet successfully brought together homeschooling children from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of community and sportsmanship. It allowed participants to showcase their swimming skills while having a memorable experience. Speaking to Veil on her plans for the future, she shared that she hopes to expand the Swim Meet to include more events like relays and involve more participants, as well as use the event as a platform to promote homeschooling in a positive light.

The inaugural Homeschool Swim Meet was a resounding success! Read on to hear from the event leader, Veil Ng, her son, Avel Chua, and homeschooolers who participated in the event.


Veil Ng
Leader of the Inaugural Homeschool Swim Meet 2023

Can you describe your vision for this event and what inspired you to organise it?

I had the idea for a Homeschool Swim Meet when COVID restrictions were tapering off. But it was not possible then, as safe distancing measures and conditions such as the number of swimmers in a lane were still in force. With the restrictions removed this year, I decided to revive the idea. 

Homeschoolers in Singapore have had Sports Day before but have yet to have a swim meet. This should not be the case in a country whose only Olympic Gold medal came from swimming! Athletes in schools get to participate in the National School Games, but homeschoolers do not have this opportunity; hence, I wanted to give homeschoolers a taste of competitive swimming and inspire the next generation of competitive swimmers.

What were some of the challenges faced in conceptualising the event?

Conceptualizing the event was relatively easy. Although I have never organised a meet before, as a family, we have been to (and participated in) so many that I know the flow of the event well.

The first step was to check if there was sufficient interest. I sought out fellow homeschoolers to register their interest. Surprisingly, over 60 signed up as potential participants! That was much more than what I had expected! I then took steps to make the event a reality so as not to disappoint the strong demand.

What challenges did you encounter when organising the event? How were they resolved?

Securing a pool was the most challenging step. Initially, I wanted to use the same facility as Aquatech (ATS) at Raffles Institution (RI), but RI turned down our request. Subsequently, I approached the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) to enquire about renting public pools. However, renting a public pool would cost thousands of dollars, and we needed a certain number of swimmers to cover the cost. Fortunately, one of the homeschooling mums connected me to the Sports Lifestyle Center, and the centre was willing to rent us the pool at a very affordable price.

The other challenge I had was to retain enough swimmers to cover costs. The event date was not confirmed when I gathered interest for the swim meet. A substantial number of swimmers pulled out for various reasons, and we were down to a smaller but reasonable number. It was disheartening initially, but I pressed on to not disappoint the others. 

I resolved to make do with the bare minimum to run a meet, doing away with the need for technical officials and starting equipment like buzzers and even stopwatches. Eventually, I used a whistle as a starting signal and had volunteers use their phones to time the events. I sought out equipment like microphones, stools, clipboards and pens from parents involved in the meet. I also decided to charge a flat fee per swimmer that allowed them to race up to three events instead of charging them based on the number of events they were participating. These turned out to be good decisions because we managed to offset the cost of the pool, procured high-quality medals for the participants, and even engaged a professional photographer to cover the event.

I assume that more than half of the participants have never participated in a formal swim meet. This is a wonderful opportunity for the children, but do you also find this a challenge when organising the event? What were some of the steps taken to help the parents and participants?

Because of the lack of competition experience, parents were unfamiliar with the requirements of competitive swimming and some of the infractions which would lead to disqualifications. To help participants, I shared the SunSwim YouTube videos that my boys and I made on common disqualifications for all four strokes. I also gave a free training session for the registered swimmers to help improve their strokes. To further aid the newer swimmers, I advised them on the proper use of goggles, the advantages of using swim caps and keeping up with nutrition pre-meet, etc.

Some parents requested for their children to swim on the outer lanes so that their children feel safer. Given that this was a first for many children, I obliged, even though participants would not have a choice in a sanctioned meet. Ultimately, the swimmer must research their participating events and how to do their best. We must teach our kids this life skill – to take ownership of their lives, exhibit sportsmanship and rise again from setbacks.

Any fun and exciting moments you would like to share?

I particularly enjoyed the moments of sportsmanship when I saw swimmers give a thumbs-up to each other or clap for each other, no matter who won. That would be the character we want to develop in our children. I was also thrilled by the beaming faces of proud parents as they put the medals on their children. For many, it might have been their first swim medal. Watching my kids succeed in swimming was exhilarating, but bringing joy and opportunities to others made organising the event even more purposeful.

How do you think the Homeschool community can continue to promote physical activities (including swimming) and healthy competition among homeschoolers?

It is essential to change our mentality and approach towards sports.

Firstly, we must regard sports as a vital aspect of a child’s learning and character-building, and it should not be secondary to academics.

Secondly, we need to facilitate our children’s commitment to regular training. There is a vast difference between the trained and the untrained swimmers. We should have swimming and other sports classes for homeschoolers. When the children train and compete in a group, they will be more motivated to continue than when they train alone.

Thirdly, we should spotlight successful homeschoolers in the sports world. Let them inspire, as well as hold clinics for the rest.

It has been a lonely journey for me, raising two homeschooled athletes. We are always the only homeschoolers at elite levels in Singapore swimming. I hope to see more homeschoolers rise because we have a more flexible schedule to train our athletes. If your child is willing and talented, don’t let their youth window for sports go to waste.

Any last words for the community?

Be the change you want to see.

Every stroke against the tide propels one closer to success. For 8-year-old Josiah Tan, his determination bagged him the gold medal in three events!

Image credit: Faheem Sonaz Pictures

Avel Chua
Competitive Swimmer & Homeschooler

Avel has participated in and won at regional and international meets, such as the National Age Group Championship 2023 and Speedo Meet 2023 in Dubai. He was selected to be part of the Emerging Talents Program to train at the National Training Center under the High-Performance Team.

Avel, this is your first swim meet with the homeschool community. Can you share your experiences and thoughts about participating in the meet and swimming with fellow homeschoolers?

It was a fun experience seeing other homeschoolers, especially the younger kids. I enjoyed cheering them on. I felt more relaxed because it was not a sanctioned swim meet, and I was not pressured to perform. So I just enjoyed the races! I am glad to be able to participate in the first-ever Homeschool Swim Meet.

What are some of your goals for the Homeschool Swim Meet?

I did not have any goals for the Homeschool Swim Meet; it was organised to raise awareness about swimming in the homeschool community and that it can be a career, not just an activity for fun. Competitive swimming has taught me many lessons, such as gratitude to the people who gave me a chance to train and compete, consistency and discipline can get you far, and how to deal with setbacks. These are lessons that prepare me for life. Hence, I encourage fellow homeschoolers to try it, especially when they are still young. You will only be young once.

Can you share some insights into your regular training regimen?

At seven years old, I started learning to swim at a club in Johor, Malaysia. When I moved to competitive swimming, I started with three times a week, gradually increasing as I moved up squads. Then, when I joined Aquatech (ATS) in Singapore, I trained eight times a week. I attend training at the National Training Center at OCBC Aquatic three times weekly under the Emerging Talents Program. I train under Coach Marcus of ATS at the Performance Development Center at Hwa Chong Institution for another seven sessions a week for another seven sessions a week. Some of these sessions are strength & conditioning sessions. On other days, we work on our techniques. But most days, we do things like race simulation, fast swimming and other skills.

Any words of encouragement for your fellow homeschoolers?

Don’t expect results immediately. Improvements take time. I believe there are many undiscovered talents among homeschoolers! Most importantly, enjoy the sport! Swimming can teach many lessons in life.

Hear from the Participants

“I like to swim so I wanted to join the competition. It also gave me a chance to test my swimming. My swimming classes were easy but I worked hard in them. Thanks to that, I managed to get a silver medal! I enjoyed the competition because it was fun, even though it was tiring. I also enjoyed the warm-up because we could swim in any direction and took our time. The warm-up was also fun because you can swim with your friends.”

Callum Lim, 8-year-old, Runner-up, 50m breaststroke event

“I like to swim so I wanted to join the competition. It also gave me a chance to test my swimming. My swimming classes were easy but I worked hard in them. Thanks to that, I managed to get a silver medal! I enjoyed the competition because it was fun, even though it was tiring. I also enjoyed the warm-up because we could swim in any direction and took our time. The warm-up was also fun because you can swim with your friends.”

Callum Lim, 8-year-old, Runner-up, 50m breaststroke event

“I wanted to take part in the swim meet because I really enjoy swimming and was looking forward to participating in a swimming competition for the first time. I was also excited about meeting my homeschool friends at the event!

I did not prepare much for the event. My dad gave me a crash course on diving techniques and corrected my swim strokes. I was not very stressed about the competition and mostly wanted to enjoy myself. I had a lot of fun chatting and playing with my friends and cheering them on when it was their turn to swim. I would definitely want to participate in the competition again!”

Emma Grace Tay, 10-year-old, Runner-up, 50m breaststroke event

“It was fun and exciting to participate in the swim meet. I was a bit nervous at the start because it was my first time swimming in a competition, and my hands slipped off the handrail before Aunty Veil blew the start whistle. Thankfully I scrambled back onto the handrail in time and was not disqualified and managed to finish with a bronze medal.”

Denton Koh, 10-year-old, Third place, 100m freestyle event

Jubilant smiles all around, packing home not only their medals but loads of beautiful memories. Image credit: Faheem Sonaz Pictures

Hear from the Winners

“Thank you for congratulating me. I train about twice a week with my mum and dad. I pushed myself to swim the hardest I could.”

Josiah Tan, 8-year-old Winner, 50m freestyle, 50m breaststroke and 50m backstroke events

“I like to swim so I wanted to join the competition. It also

“I am very pleased and surprised to bag two gold medals because I was not expecting even a podium finish in either event, not to mention a gold medal. I learned a lot about disqualification rules from watching Avel’s videos. I definitely want to participate in future Homeschool Swim Meets!

“My brother and I do not have a training regime, although we take swim lessons every Friday for our SwimSafer certification. However, we joined the SAFRA Swim For Hope Charity Event that ran from 1 September to 29 October this year and committed to cover 50km each over the time period. As a result, we had been swimming almost 2-3 times a week for 8 weeks by the time we entered the Swim Meet. That certainly helped as it gave us a lot of practice time in the pool.”

Dylan Koh, 10-year-old Winner, 100m and 50m freestyle events

Zara after winning the gold medal for the 50m backstroke event for 9 to 10-year-olds. Image credit: Faheem Sonaz Pictures

“I felt really happy about winning the 50m backstroke.I usually train three times a week, but I trained more for this event, and that helped me a lot.”

Zara Janelle Larson, 10-year-old Winner, 50m Backstroke event

“I felt really happy and proud of myself for winning. I usually train about 1 km every other day. I like to pace myself and sprint and work on the ones I am not very good at. I think that helped me win as the training taught me how to pace myself and make me go faster.”

Johan Lucas Larson, 10-year-old Winner, 50m freestyle event

50m Freestyle Event for 9 to 10-year-olds. Image credit: Faheem Sonaz Pictures

Hear from Parent Volunteers

We are all so thankful to Veil for sharing her experience and knowledge about swim meets and taking it upon herself to lead in organising one for our homeschool community in her own time and effort. Seeing her personal commitment to contribute to the community was an impetus for me and my husband to volunteer and do something small in our limited capacities to help out. We were thankful for a scorching morning on the swim meet day, so the event could take off. We were baked like hotcakes, but it was all worth it!


I had an invigorating time at the swim meet! Veil, the parent who organised the event, planned the details thoroughly. When I realised that all hands were needed on deck, I volunteered to be a timekeeper – each lane needed two! As this was the first time a swim meet was held, parents and participants had to be flexible and cope with on-the-spot decisions, like swimmers could not dive off the starting block (for safety reasons) or timekeepers needing hand signals to communicate readiness at the whistle start. But these small hiccups were nothing compared to the energy and emotion during the event – I was so encouraged by the sheer determination of the swimmers. All-in-all, an amazing experience. Kudos to the organisers!


Homeschool Singapore congratulates Veil Ng and her tribe for bringing the event to fruition and paving the way for subsequent Homeschool Swim Meets for the community. We hope that their story would inspire other homeschoolers in leading similar initiatives in the future.