Nadia with Katrina Ann, National Synchronized Swimming Star.
Inspire and mould the next generation of independent women to succeed in whatever their area of achievement is; that is what the people at 8TV G-Thang aim to do.
In episode 5 of their series in Empowering Women, host Nadia meets Malaysia’s national synchronized swimming star and icon, Katrina Ann.
Katrina was a gold medalist at 2011 SEA Games, making a clean sweep winning 5 gold medals in the synchronized swimming events and becoming a national favorite.
Nadia joins Katrina in the pool for some tips and to find out what it takes to be a synchronized swimmer. She starts off very well, even performing the initial techniques comfortably, but admits, as it gets tougher, that it is indeed a difficult sport for a regular swimmer. Synchronized swimmers even need to stay wide-eyed under water to navigate the sub-surface elements of the water and perfect their routine.
For Katrina, preparation on event day starts about 5 hours prior to performance time, a series of make-up sessions followed by training and more make-up before finally giving off a flawless performance.
Talking about the sport, Katrina says age is not a bar to learn synchronized swimming, as Katrina herself had once taught a 52 yr old the beauty and elegance of the sport. One message Katrina has for sportswomen is not to worry too much about their body image, as each sport has its own requirements on one’s body; just as her body has changed since she had taken up swimming from her gymnastic days. But she says, it should not matter and one has to get on and look the best in whatever suits you the most.
Away from the pool, Nadia and Katrina meet up at Aquaria KLCC, where they walk through a 90 meter tunnel long glass tunnel for an amazing underwater world trip, right here on land, possible only at Aquaria KLCC.
Not stopping with that, scuba diving was next and the 45 minute experience does not even require scuba training. Going down in a cage and being so close to the varied marine life, everything from sting rays, groupers and sharks, the experience was mind-boggling.
More water sports followed with wake-boarding – combination of water-skiing, snowboarding and surfing – at Putrajaya Lake. Nadia goes on first and finds out its certainly more difficult than it looks. Katrina, the true athlete that she is, was blowing kisses while wake-boarding in no time at all. Katrina says 15 minutes of wake-boarding is equivalent to an hour’s workout in the gym.
Nadia meets Katrina again after her day’s training for a much needed cup of hot coffee, to have more insights into Katrina’s background and growth as a national level athlete. Katrina’s changeover from gymnastics to synchronized swimming at the tender age of 13 years was mainly because of the edge one gains from also being a gymnast. Katrina remarks that she still had to swim about 6 km for years to build up her stamina for the sport.
Talking about the misconceptions of synchronized swimming, Katrina says people do not realize how much of training actually goes into it and there is not enough promotion of the sport like others. The sport also comes with its injuries; Katrina’s included a ligament tear on her arm which required surgery and a 6 month rest. It was a good thing however, as it turned out, as she won a gold medal in the Malaysian Games after that. Looking back, her very first gold medal was at National Age Group Championships. She moved from the 35th placing to 1st in a year; a feat she attributes a lot to her Chinese coach. Katrina’s coach helped her a lot with her initial stages and she even learned Mandarin then to converse with her coach.
Katrina says hard work and effort as always, is what gets you ahead. And if you want to do something, don’t let others stop you for any reason.
What all of us can take back from this episode is that athletes are regular people, with talents, hopes and dreams. What makes them stand apart is that they would not think twice to sacrifice blood, sweat and tears to achieve their wildest dreams; they never take talents for granted and do anything to develop their skill; train for hours on end and incomparable discipline in the name of passion and sport – something that is exemplified in Katrina. We wait to see her achieve her ultimate dream: to represent Malaysia in the Olympics. She has our support all the way!