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Different Peas in the Same Pod

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Our Sporting Heroes. My Neighbour. Crystal and Stephanie.

Having bagged silver medals in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, National Synchronised swimming duo Stephanie Chen, 20, and Crystal Yap, 19, are set for greater heights this year.

The bubbly pair – who spends bulk of their time together – shared more about their relationship, different personality traits and spending time with their loved ones.

Q. When and how were you first acquainted with the sport?

Stephanie: Prior to synchronised swimming, my CCA was rhythmic gymnastics. Synchronised swimming seemed like a natural progression from there as it is a combination of the two. I joined the sport when I was 10 years old.

Crystal: I picked up synchronised swimming when I was 10 years old too. At that time, Philip Lee, who is President of Speediswim, was teaching me how to swim. He organised a synchronised swimming class during the holidays and the rest is history.

Q. When was your first encounter with one another?

S: We were first paired together in 2009, but we trained together in the same club before that.

C: Our first time competing as a duo was in 2011.

Q. How often do you train together?

S: 6 days a week, twice a day on weekdays and once a day on weekends.

Q. Where do you draw your strength from?

S: Having a lot of self-discipline. Although synchronised swimming is a team sport, each partner has to do her part in order to improve.

C: We also keep each other motivated and act as a source of moral support. Training so often means that we don’t necessarily have to verbally motivate one another; each other’s presence is enough.

Q. Do you have any pre-game rituals before a major sporting event?

S: We would visualise the routine the night before and prepare ourselves with a mental image of the competition.

C: Right before the event, we would slap our arm and thigh muscles really hard to warm them up.

Q. What is the most memorable achievement of your sporting career?

S: I would say the journey had been phenomenal overall. To be able to compete on the international stage with world-class athletes even though synchronised swimming is a pretty relatively new sport Singapore is an achievement on its own.

C: For me, it was the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai. We entered the finals, and it was the first time that an aquatic sports team from Singapore entered the finals apart from Tao Li.

Q: How would you describe your relationship with your partner?

C: We tend to have matching preferences because we would influence each other. For example, our preferences in bubble tea – one of our favourite indulgences – have grown quite similar over time.

Q. Do you have personality traits similar or different compared to your partner?

S: I prefer my things to be neat, while Crystal tends to be a little less organised.

C: Whenever we room together overseas, my side is a mess compared to her side.

S: In the past, I would tell her to clean up. I’ve learnt to live with it now. (Laughs)

Q. What is your best memory of your partner?

S: During the 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held in Indonesia. It was our first time competing together in the SEA games. We did our best and brought home the silver.

C: I was admitted to the hospital once and Stephanie was by my side the entire time, while we were on our way to the ambulance.

Q. Where is your area of residence?

S: I moved to Upper Thomson in 2012, and previously lived in Lentor.

C: Currently I live in Telok Kurau, but I have lived in Jurong for most of my life.

Q. How would you spend time with your family?

S: My family and I frequent Thomson Plaza often. Our regular food haunt are the restaurants around the mall, as we go there every week.

C: Sunday was considered family day. We would visit East Coast Park every Sunday to cycle. Now, we will eat at my grandmother’s place every once in two weeks and spend quality time together.

Q. If you could have a superpower, which would you choose?

S: Definitely time control. I would relive my precious moments, especially in 2011. That year, we entered the finals of the 14th FINA World Championships and came in 2nd for the 26th SEA Games. At the same time, it was a challenging year as I took my O-Levels while participating in the competitions.

C: Teleportation. I would love to go to the Maldives to see its picturesque beaches.

Q: Do you have any personal interests outside of synchronised swimming?

S: I’m a big K-pop fan. Some of my other team mates are also fans, so I’ve attended several concerts with them. I hope to visit Korea one day!

C: I’m watching the anime One Piece right now. McDonald’s previously released a line of One Piece collectable figurines and I have the full collection of toys.

S: Yes, she had asked us to buy McDonald’s meals to help supplement her collection.

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