Sink or Swim? Online Event Throws Program a Lifeline.

Sink or swim?, that was the challenge presented to the The Pacific Rim YMCA Aqua Sports Friendship Festival, a joint international sports program run every year by Taipei YMCA, Seoul YMCA and Osaka YMCA, as the Corona pandemic forced borders shut and prevented YMCA youth in Asia from participating in the event. Event member associations, led by Taipei YMCA Vice General Secretary, Mr. Gilbert Chin, knew that they must get creative to ensure the program continued in 2020-2021.

One idea that was floated was to hold a swim festival on line through a series of filmed local races and time trials that would be pooled together to determine winners based on the fastest recorded times. Each video required a timekeeper recording with the participants’ best time records sent to Taipei YMCA, who kindly adjudicated on the results.

So from late December 2020 to mid January 2021, YMCAs from Taipei, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Metropolitan Singapore, Seoul and Osaka held local time trials and submitted entries.

Each swimmer could enter up to three events which included freestyle, backstroke, breast stroke and butterfly at both 50 meters and 100 meters, plus a 200 medley and 4 x 50 relay events for freestyle and medley. All events were divided into three age groups.

It was a chance for participants to challenge themselves as well as connect with contestants from around Asia online. Eita Yamamoto, a 14 year old student from Osaka YMCA and one of the 65 swimmers who competed in the event reflected, “I’m really happy with my 4th placing in my 50 meter breaststroke event, but I'm going to practice even harder to achieve my next goal of a top 3 placing.” Sa-Rang Kim, a swimmer from Seoul YMCA added that “I’m so happy I could participate in this contest which was especially memorable because it was held online, meaning that I could still connect with other contestants overseas.”

“The pandemic has forced YMCA’s and their communities to find innovative ways to stay connected, especially for young people vulnerable to mental health issues due to increased social isolation. Running The Pacific Rim YMCA Aqua Sports Friendship Festival online has provided us a way to achieve this goal.” Said, Mr. Chin. “It was certainly the easiest and most feasible event to organise online because it didn’t require teams gathering to compete,” he added.

The event is a great example of using ICT technology to solve challenges created by the Corona pandemic. Other YMCA’s are encouraged to take up the challenge in their region. For more information about the event please contact: