LEVELLING THE FIELD OF PLAY
Yet, Amanda is also no stranger to disappointment. The darkest times of her swimming career were when she failed to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016. But those challenges also gave her lessons in confidence and mental grit. “I was just going through the motions every day without any purpose in life. I thought of hanging up my goggles, but I had to ask myself: Are you done? Or do you have unfinished business?” she says. She persevered, driven by the desire to better herself and improve her personal best timing in her pet event. Today, this elite athlete juggles a gruelling training regimen — think 4.45am starts and 10-times-a-week training — with a full-time job at Fullerton Health as an innovation associate. “I wanted to become a doctor but didn’t have time for both medical school and swim training,” says Amanda, who took a degree in Sports Science instead. “And now I’m in the healthcare sector, still trying to help one way or another.”
Though her job involves devising projects and spearheading welfare initiatives, Amanda’s first taste of community work came earlier. In 2016, she joined The Invisible Hands, a project started by her friends to provide the underprivileged in Singapore with basic necessities. She says: “When I saw how some families lived, it opened my eyes to a new level of poverty. There could be 10 people crammed into a one-room flat. It got me thinking. Through swimming, I have been gifted with access to sponsors like NTUC FairPrice and Milo. So I should do something to give back to the community.”
Thus inspired to make a change in the community, she started Team Heartwork (see box story) with five other young national athletes. “As athletes, we want to give back because of what is invested in us — the community support we get every time we race on home ground,” says Amanda. “We understand that our accomplishments would not have been possible otherwise. Having benefited from the community, we wish to help Singaporeans from all walks of life have an equal shot too.” Team Heartwork also acts as a bridge between those who need help and those who want to help, allowing different generations to work together. “We know there are a lot of young people out there who want to lend a hand but don’t know how to. Hopefully, we can be a focal point and create a pathway for them to kickstart their own programmes,” she says.