July 31, 2023
HANOI – Lương Ngọc Duy, a swimming coach in HCM City, recently completed a 24-hour swimming challenge to raise funds to support young talent and free surgery for children with cleft palates. Thanh Nga spoke to the 37-year-old former athlete to learn more.
Inner Sanctum: Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Lương Ngọc Duy, and I am a former national swimming and water polo athlete. I am currently a freelance coach and a member of the executive committee of the HCM City Aquatic Sports Federation, where I focus on social work, teaching disadvantaged children and developing the mass swimming movement.
Inner Sanctum: Why did you decide to join the 24-hour swimming challenge to raise funds for Operation Smile? How much have you raised so far?
I teach swimming to disadvantaged children at Angel’s House, where a child named Đỉnh had cleft palate surgery through Operation Smile. This inspired me to create a 24-hour swimming challenge to raise funds for them, so that more children can find their smiles again. I have raised VNĐ250 million [US$10,500], which means about 20 children will have free cleft-palate surgeries. Initially, I planned to raise VNĐ100 million to pay for 10 surgeries, and VNĐ20 million for swimming talents at Angel’s House. But the amount of money exceeded my expectations, which was a pleasant surprise.
This shows that sports challenges combined with volunteering have a positive impact on the community.
Inner Sanctum: Can you tell us about your experience in the 24-hour swimming challenge?
I had a gruelling experience of swimming for 24 hours and completing a 53km swim in a 25m lake pool. I was exhausted for three days afterwards. I kicked the lake wall 2,120 times, swung my arms 27,560 times, and breathed 13,780 times. Although I had previously swum 24km in the sea over six hours, this challenge was still difficult. I practised continuously for two months before taking the swimming challenge, especially the most challenging period of the swim, which was late at night.
Inner Sanctum: How many years have you been involved in swimming, and what has helped you maintain your passion for the sport?
I practised swimming at the age of six, and I have been with it for 32 years now. Swimming in the water brings me happiness, and it is a sport that is excellent for health and an essential life skill. With my passion for sports, especially swimming, I will use these advantages to contribute and bring meaning to life, especially for underprivileged children.
Inner Sanctum: Please tell us about the swimming competitions you participated in.
I represented Việt Nam in the Nantou Sun Moon Lake Marathon Swim International Event in the 10km category organized by the International Swimming Federation in 2018.
I also participated in the Yangtze River swimming competition in Wuhan, China in 2019 and many training and competitions in Southeast Asia. I was the national champion in water polo eight times, won a silver medal in the 10km category of the Oceanman tournament in Langkawi, Malaysia, in 2017, won a silver medal in the Oceanman tournament in Krabi, Thailand, in 2018, and won many other distinctions in national swimming championships.
At the Vũng Tàu Ocean Challenge 2023, I finished first in my age group for the 5km, and I also participated in many swimming events to raise funds for disadvantaged children.
Inner Sanctum: Can you introduce the group “Swimming and Friends” that you co-founded to teach swimming to disadvantaged children?
This group was established in 2018 with only two coaches, and now there are 10 national swimmers who teach swimming for free to disadvantaged children in HCM City. We help them train for health and gain life skills to avoid drowning.
In the past years, the group “Swimming and Friends” has helped more than 1,500 disadvantaged children learn how to swim. The entire cost of renting a swimming pool for teaching and learning is also paid for by the group members.
At the end of each lesson, the children have 15 minutes to participate in games in the pool. The children’s happiness motivates me and my friends to continue to keep going. Maybe from these free swimming classes, we will discover more swimming talents for the country.
Inner Sanctum: Do you have any advice for people who are looking to start swimming?
Do not hesitate to sign up for swimming lessons at any centre near your home. After knowing how to swim at least one basic swimming style, you will find life more enjoyable and feel more confident when participating in outdoor activities.
Inner Sanctum: Would you like to send a message to the community? What are your plans for the future?
I would like to call on everyone to pay attention to the lives of children in difficult circumstances. By participating in swimming and other sports, we can improve our health, maintain a strong life, and participate in more social activities.
In the short term, I will continue teaching swimming to disadvantaged children in HCM City. As for the swimming challenge, I plan to go to Đà Nẵng to raise funds there. VNS