Smiling is a relatively easy task for the human body to perform. It is seemingly effortless for just about everyone and even more so for people who are naturally outgoing and friendly. Now, try depriving yourself of oxygen for sixty seconds (let’s say while underwater, upside down and spinning in circles), and see how easy it is. Not quite as easy. One SMS student who can do it all and still keep a smile on her face is Yun Wah Choo.
Yun Wah in grade nine is a competitive synchronized swimmer. She has devoted the last six years of her life to trying to attain some high level goals. She trains at Commonwealth Pool nearly every day of the week, putting in close to eighteen hours of practice time. A typical practice is usually three hours in length and may include what she calls “unders”, swimming lengths of the pool under water.
She has her sights set on representing BC in the Canada Winter Games in Prince George next February. She is aiming for a result that will put her on top of the podium. This would, not only, be a huge success for Yun Wah, but would also mark the first time in Winter Games History that a BC athlete has stood on the podium during a medal ceremony for synchronized swimming.
Yun Wah has already proved herself as having the talent and potential to achieve great results. At last year’s National Championships, her and her partner put together, and executed a routine that placed them 16th. She performed a figure (individual skill) that ranked her 18th in the country.
To qualify for the Winter Games, Yun Wah will need to compete in a series of competitions over the coming months that will narrow a large field of worthy Provincial representatives to only ten that will be given the opportunity to attend the games. She will compete in the first of three events on the road to making the team May 23rd – 25th at Commonwealth Pool. She needs to be in the top 16 to advance to the next round. She says her routine will be set to the theme of Batman. Surely, for the theatrical spirit it will create and for the aqua-acrobatics that will be showcased. Look for an SMS Batman-themed Mufti Friday May 23rd in support of of Yun Wah’s journey.
Synchronization and managing a multitude of challenging tasks while under pressure and under water, isn’t something that is isolated to the pool for Yun Wah. She manages all of her endeavours with composure, grace and excellence. Yun Wah often has to miss many days of school in order to travel to competitions. For example, she heads to Montreal soon in order to qualify for Nationals, and returns only a week prior to Spring break. The onus is on Yun Wah to meticulously manage her time, consult with teachers and ensure harmony between her two worlds of academia and athletics. Oh yeah, and she is a part of the St. Margaret’s Sr. Band as well.
Yun Wah attributes the ease she finds in aligning her curricular and extra-curricular activities to the support she receives from the school. Because of the many hours of training she puts in, she is given credit for her Physical Education classes. Yun Wah uses the spare block this credit creates effectively and gets all of her school work done before heading off after school to her demanding practice.
Being successful as a young student and athlete requires a lot of attention to detail. Yun Wah has, in fact already prepared a tentative timetable for her graduating year that would accommodate the anticipated regime of rigours she will endure in order to prepare for her ultimate goal – The Olympics.
Yun Wah is an inspiration to everyone at St. Margaret’s. She shows us all how important time management is, has accomplished some extremely impressive feats and manages to do it all with a smile on her face.
*An update to this story: Yun Wah has now qualified for this year's Nationals! Congrats Yun Wah