A chat with record-breaking stars of DBS and DGS after their Grand Slam win at the Inter-School Swimming Competition

Hong Kong’s top student athletes share their highlights from this year’s Inter-School Swimming Competition

Joanne Ma |

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DBS’ Michael Cheuk arrived at the Inter-school competition having already broken three Hong Kong records at the Jakarta Asian Games in August.

Diocesan Girls’ School (DGS) and Diocesan Boys’ School (DBS) dominated the finals of the Inter-School Swimming Competition held at Kowloon Park Swimming Pool last Friday. Both schools achieved a “Grand Slam”, claiming first place in grades A, B and C.

The competition saw top swimmers from 22 secondary schools in Kowloon and on Hong Kong Island take part. DGS came first in the girls’ overall category, followed by Heep Yunn School and Good Hope School. Among the boys, DBS led the field, with St Joseph’s College coming in second, and La Salle College third.

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James Gavin Chan swam for St Joseph's College in the freestyle relay.
Photo: Kelly Ho/SCMP

Michael, from DBS, holds the Hong Kong record in men’s 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle. On Friday, he set a record in Grade A boys’ 200m freestyle with a time of 1:50.30.

“I’m feeling both tired and excited,” he told Young Post. “I tried my best and broke my personal competition best of 1:50.95. However, I really wanted to break the Hong Kong record as well.”

Despite not achieving a new personal best, Michael said he was satisfied with his results. “I have been training so hard over the past year,” said the 16-year-old, who also competed in his first Asian Games in August. “It exhausted me to a point where sometimes I just broke down and cried. It’s tough, but I think I’ve been holding up okay.”

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When asked about a knee injury he suffered recently, he said, “It’s about 90 per cent recovered, so don’t worry about me. I’ll strive to swim faster”. He added that he was already looking forward to next year’s inter-school swimming event.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Tinky, from DGS, broke the Grade A girls’ 200m freestyle record with a time of 2:03.56 – a full 1.68 seconds faster than the previous record she set two years ago. However, in the girls’ 200m individual medley, the Youth Olympics swimmer lost to Wong Ching-lam from Heep Yunn School, who clocked 2:20.38.

“The result was to be expected,” Tinky said of the medley race. “I haven’t participated in this event for two years. I’m also still recovering from the Youth Olympic Games which ended last week. My training was affected by jet lag.”

Youth Olympic Games swimmer Tinky Ho Nam-wai of Diocesan Girls' School set a new record for Grade A Girls' 200m freestyle.
Photo: Kelly Ho/SCMP

Even though her result in the Grade A girls’ 200m freestyle event was a record for the competition, it was still slower than Tinky’s timing at the Youth Olympic Games by about a second – something she couldn’t help but fixate on. “Perhaps I was expecting too much from myself,” she admitted. 

“I really wanted to swim faster, but the results were just different.” In a day with so many highlights, the biggest of all was the relay races. St Joseph’s came first in boys’ Grade A 4 x 50m freestyle relay with a time of 1:35.96, breaking the previous record by 0.52 seconds.

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Boys from St. Joseph's set a new Grade A Boys' freestyle relay record.
Photo: Kelly Ho/SCMP

“I was very nervous before the competition because La Salle College was right on our heels,” said James Gavin Chan, the 17-year-old St Joseph team captain. “Our scores were so close that if we ended up in second place in our event, we would be third overall.” But with their victory over DBS and La Salle, St Joseph’s were able to claim second place in the boys’ overall category, and after the victory, James celebrated with his supporters in the stands.

Although he has competed in the Inter-School Swimming Competition for six years, he said this year was the most intense. “I still can’t believe we won and set a record as well. I’m feeling exhilarated!”

Edited by M. J. Premaratne