SAFRA Swim For Hope 2023: Swimming In Support Of Mental Health

A participant in this year’s SAFRA Swim for Hope shares what the event means to him and lets us in on his strategies for completing the challenge.

By Sasha Gonzales        22 September 2023

SAFRA Swim for Hope is back. The annual event, introduced by SAFRA Tampines in 2011, provides an opportunity for Operationally Ready National Serviceman and their families, as well as members of the public, to contribute to charitable causes, while promoting fitness and bonding through swimming.

Every year, SAFRA Swim for Hope adopts various charities to raise funds to help those in need. In the past, it has benefitted charity organisations such as the Autism Resource Centre, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore, and the Down Syndrome Association.

For the 13th edition this year, the event aims to support individuals who are recovering or suffering from mental health struggles, to improve their quality of life. 

Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are common in our society, affecting both young and old. People with mental health issues often struggle to go about their daily life and function normally at school or work. Their conditions can also have a negative impact on their relationships and friendships, as they can cause symptoms such as irritability, social withdrawal, feelings of hopelessness, and angry outbursts.  

SAFRA Swim for Hope 2023’s fundraising target is $250,000. The funds will benefit five beneficiaries:

Care Corner Singapore: With 43 service points across Singapore, Care Corner Singapore serves children with special learning needs or from disadvantaged backgrounds, youth-at-risk, troubled families, vulnerable seniors, and individuals with counselling and mental health needs.

Children’s Aid Society: The Children’s Aid Society aims to provide a holistic range of residential care, counselling and other specialised therapies to support the most vulnerable in our community through their challenges of adverse family circumstances, family violence, and child neglect.

President’s Challenge: The President’s Challenge is a national movement led by the President to rally Singaporeans to build a caring and cohesive society together. An annual community outreach, President’s Challenge aims to bring together people from all walks of life, under the President’s patronage, to help those who are less fortunate.

SAF Care Fund: The SAF Care Fund provides additional support to SAF servicemen who are severely disabled due to military service and require long-term care and support.

Singapore Aquatics: Through the SAQ Development Fund, SAQ would like to roll out its “Learn to Swim” programme which aims to provide an opportunity for every child and youth in Singapore to learn to swim.

We spoke to Isaac Fang, a participant in SAFRA Swim for Hope 2023. The 44-year-old investment portfolio manager shares what motivated him to sign up for the Individual Open 55km category and tells us his strategies for going the distance.

Q: What made you decide to take part in SAFRA Swim for Hope this year?

Isaac: SAFRA Swim for Hope is for a good cause. Mental health is something we should all take seriously and people who struggle with their mental health need extra support. 

Every year, I also try to participate in at least one swim event. I did the NS50 a while back, which involved swimming 50 laps at five different SAFRA locations, totalling 250 laps. That event was so much fun and I’m hoping that SAFRA Swim for Hope 2023 will be equally enjoyable. I signed up for the 55km category and that distance is my biggest swim challenge to date. 

Q: That’s quite a distance! Do you have any strategies for completing your swim?

Isaac: Prior to signing up for the event, I was trying to improve my freestyle technique using the Total Immersion approach by American coach Terry Laughlin. Total Immersion is a popular swimming technique that emphasises form before speed. Since reading a book about Total Immersion I’ve been taking those swim drills seriously. I swim 1.5km regularly at public pools and have a personal best timing of 32 minutes. My goal is to complete those 30 laps in under 30 minutes. There’s still room for improvement; I need to be a more efficient swimmer.  

I’ve broken down my 55km into 11km per week, so I swim 2km per day from Monday to Thursday, and 3km on Fridays. I also try not to rush and alternate between breaststroke and freestyle every 100m.

Q: How do you battle fatigue and cramping while in the water?

Isaac: Having improved my freestyle technique, I find that I’m gliding in the water more easily, with less drag. This helps me conserve more energy in the long run and allows me to maintain my momentum as well as manage any discomfort. 

Q: How long have you been swimming and what do you love most about it?

Isaac: I got into competitive swimming during my junior college days, which was more than two decades ago. My sprints are not fantastic but I can go the distance. I love swimming because it’s a low-impact cardio workout. I have a back injury that rules out high-impact cardio workouts, and I find that swimming doesn’t make the injury worse. It’s a great cardiovascular activity that gets my heart rate up without putting much strain on my body.

Q: Is this your first time participating in SAFRA Swim for Hope?

Isaac: No, I’ve signed up twice in the past. I used to take part for the T-shirts and goodie bags. I did the 10km swim and clocked them with my usual 1.5km swim at public pools. 

Q: In terms of fundraising, have you received a lot of support from family and friends so far?

Isaac: Yes, and I’m grateful for the contributions of everyone who’s supported my participation in SAFRA Swim for Hope. My fundraising target is $500 and to date I have raised $160.

You can support me, too, by clicking on safras4h.sg/participant

Q: Do you have any parting words for people who are still considering signing up for SAFRA Swim for Hope 2023?

Isaac: Don’t hesitate to be a part of this meaningful event – the best way to beat the Singapore heat is to cool down in a pool. 

Level up your swimming performance with these pro tips from SAFRA’s swimming coaches!

Swim for mental health support at SAFRA Swim for Hope 2023

SAFRA Swim for Hope is a great opportunity to get fit, bond with your friends and loved ones, and raise money for a good cause. 

The event includes three categories:

  • Families for Life: One parent and one child (6-12 years old) with the option to add up to two more people. Distances: 1km and 5km
  • Open Individual (13 and above). Distances: 1km, 15km and 55km
  • Team (minimum five people to form a team). Distance: 250km

Registration fees start at $22. Each participant will receive an event tee, finisher medal and goodie bag worth more than $80. Finishers of the 55km Individual Open and 250km Team categories will also receive a finisher tee. SAFRA members will receive an additional $10 e-voucher.

Registration: Closes on 30 Sept 2023
Swim period: Now till 29 Oct 2023
Fundraising period: Now till 29 Oct 2023

For more information and to register, go to safras4h.sg

Save more with SAFRA! Enjoy special deals and discounts on dining, shopping, entertainment, travel, fitness and more from over 1,500 merchant outlets islandwide. Sign up or renew your SAFRA membership for three years at the price of 1 year ($43.20 inclusive of GST)! Plus, get your spouse and children on board to enjoy the same privileges too – 1st dependent pays $5.40/year, and it’s free for the 2nd dependent onwards. Visit safra.sg/savemore for more details. 

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