Singapore’s Christie Chue’s five golds earns her outstanding swimmer award at US meet

Singapore’s Christie Chue’s five golds earns her outstanding swimmer award at US meet

The Straits Times - Sports·2024-02-28 15:03

SINGAPORE – More than three years after she wondered if an Instagram invitation to study and train at Florida International University (FIU) was a scam, Christie Chue was left pinching herself again.

On Feb 25, she signed off her final American Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships in style, winning five golds and one silver to help her team become American Athletic Conference (AAC) champions for the first time.

In 2023, they had finished second, just 11.5 points behind University of Houston. This time, the Panthers recorded 778.5 points to finish ahead of Southern Methodist University (666) and Rice University (593).

Chue’s exploits at the Robson and Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium in Dallas featured wins in the women’s 100-yard breaststroke (59.25sec), 200-yard individual medley (1min 57.21sec), 200-yard medley relay (1:38.15) and 800-yard freestyle relay (7:09.88), as well as a championship record in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:07.99).

The Singaporean was named the AAC Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet. Chue, 23, said: “This is my last year at FIU and I wanted to end off with a bang.

“I really wanted the 200-yard breaststroke meet record and Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet, which I narrowly missed out on last year, so it’s nice to earn these and end off my AAC career the way I wanted.

“This year, we did something different by splitting up into four groups – long distance, upper-middle distance, lower-middle distance and sprints – for more targeted training.

“As a team, we really wanted this first AAC title after coming so close last year. The coaches and athletes put in a lot of hard work and there was a lot of support within the team that spurred us to victory this year.”

Singapore swimming head coach Gary Tan congratulated Chue and said: “She has done a great job preparing herself... it’s great seeing her grow into a leadership role with her team. We look forward to Christie making an impact on her return.

“Her improvements in the past year have had significant impact on her college team and this augurs well for her and for Singapore.”

Chue received an Instagram message from FIU in August 2020 and while she instinctively thought it might be a scam, the “surreal” offer became a reality. The final-year recreation and sports management major said: “Being alone in the US, away from my family, I have been doing my own grocery, cooking and paying my own phone bills. It gives me a glimpse into adulting and I have learnt to be more independent.

“In school, I don’t feel as stressed as I do while studying in Singapore because there is a really good balance between sports and academics here. I also used to be more timid and don’t really speak up, but after three years here, I’m expressing myself more and I feel I’ve grown as a person and as a swimmer.

“In terms of swimming, there are new training styles and systems to adapt to like short-course yards, but overall it’s been an eye-opener and if anyone wants to achieve something more in swimming, they should go experience training overseas.”

Voice still hoarse from the celebrations, Chue was back training in Miami for a couple of days ahead of the March 20-23 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 women’s swimming and diving championships.

While she is undecided about furthering her studies overseas or returning to Singapore after she graduates in April, she aims to compete in the World Championships at home and the SEA Games in Thailand in 2025.

“I’m not getting any younger, I’ll be 25 then, so I have to see my body condition before I decide whether to continue swimming competitively.” she said.

With eight golds, two silvers and five bronzes at the SEA Games since 2015, she had been the Republic’s top women’s breaststroke specialist until Letitia Sim’s emergence in 2022, as the 20-year-old took over the 50m, 100m and 200m national records in the discipline. But Chue believes the friendly rivalry is good for the sport.

She said: “There are not many strong breaststroke swimmers in Singapore, and if there is no competition, it can be quite boring. This is a healthy way to keep things exciting as we push each other to train harder.”

Tan added: “We see it as growing the depth in Singapore, making strides in moving the sport forward while paving a path for future generations. You can never have enough depth to continue to raise the bar, it’s a healthy support system to lean on in tough times and celebrate with in good ones.”


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