Frederick Bousquet posing with SportCares youth at a swimming clinic at the OCBC Aquatic Centre. (Photo by SportSG, Irwah Sahrul)
It could have been just another smile-for-the-camera-and-go session for an important athlete on a busy promotional schedule.
But everything about the gathering on Sunday morning at OCBC Aquatic Centre came together to create something extraordinary.
The swimmers from the Deaf Sports Association had just come from their training session at Kallang Basin Swimming Complex, but they were psyched to get back in the pool and learn. The boys from SportCares in Jurong Springs were not able to swim because they were fasting but they were psyched to listen and learn.
A lesser coach might have been overwhelmed. But French swimmer Frederick Bousquet has his own extraordinary life story. He knows about overcoming boundaries. Through his experience in sport, he knows about adaptability, resilience, tenacity and discipline.
Frederick was in town to talk about Swim Stars, the international star-studded competition in September, but he took the time to deliver some magic and meaningful advice for the youth from SportCares.
In fact, he did it twice.
Frederick Bousquet giving SportCares youth specific swimming tips. (Photo by SportSG, Irwah Sahrul)
Sunday’s session at OCBC Aquatic Centre marked the second day in a row that Frederick had put himself forward in service of SportCares. The night before, the freestyle swimmer had visited the Saturday Night Lights football training session at CAG Central to share his experience as a young footballer faced with a difficult decision and his subsequent life as an elite swimmer.
On Sunday, it was all about swimming. Working with the assistance of interpreter, Frederick asked the swimmers to do a lap in the new competition pool so he could observe their general technique. He broke down the movements for the swimmers, showing them how to revise their timing or the way they angled their arms during their strokes.
Despite nursing a shoulder injury, Frederick took the plunge into the competition pool for a physical demonstration. He also singled out swimmers Ng Wen Lin, 17 and Tan Jian Hao, 20 for praise.
Frederick Bousquet takes questions from the SportCares youth at the OCBC Aquatic Centre. (Photo by SportSG, Irwah Sahrul)
After the session in the pool, Frederick spent some time answering questions from the youth. A swimmer and a footballer, Muzammil from West J asked why Frederick took up swimming. Fred said that his first passion was soccer but due to an injury he sustained when he was 14, the doctor told him to choose either swimming or ballet. The man who first broke the 21-second mark in the 50-m freestyle hasn't looked back.
Jeremiah Wong who suffered from cramps during the swimming demonstration asked for advice on cramp prevention. Drink more water, said the veteran swimmer. Cramps are a sign of dehydration. Because they are working out in the water, most swimmers never feel they are dehydrated until it is too late. Frederick also recommended bananas, well-known as a source of potassium.
At the end of the session, after the advice and demonstration, the youth did get the group photo. Frederick also surprised the participants with swimming caps from his club CN Marseille. Two SportCares boys, Joralzy and Muzammil were delighted when Frederick presented them with CN Marseille t-shirts.
However their greatest sense of appreciation went towards Frederick’s willingness to rise to the challenges presented by language, injury disability and religion to help them learn through sport.
The poet Maya Angelou said: 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Thanks, Frederick, for making the youth from SportCares feel great. See you in September at Swim Stars!