Yip Yoong Fong

Thank you, the swimming pool of ACS!

When I was asked recently to write something about the school, the first thing that came to my mind was not some outstanding student I admired or teacher that I knew but simply the swimming pool I am fond of.

Oh yes, the old swimming pool! The pool you either loved or loathed.

It was this pool that inspired me to study hard at my former school of MGS so that I could come to study at ACS and learn to swim.

I did just that, from 1982 to 1983. Just a two-year stint but useful to me, nevertheless.

You see, I wanted to learn to swim. I loved to see people gliding smoothly, gracefully and effortlessly in the crystal clear water. Not so much for the competitiveness of it but more for the beauty of the action.

Yes, you are a poet and the water is the paper! Swimming, to me, is poetry in motion. You are writing poetry in the water.

I do not have terrific swimming coaches at that time. They were Mr Foo Yoke Meng and Encik Abdul Rahman Baker. Taught me to swim they did and I learned as fast as I could, as I have only two years to do that!

While many girls went to great length to avoid the pool simply because they are shy to be seen in the swimming suit in front of so many male students, I threw modesty to the wind and learned every step and stroke there is (except for the butterfly stroke).

I was a late learner and therefore I have to work harder to catch up. There were moments when I almost gave up. Some naughty boys from my class loved to tease us; one even pulled my leg down as I was learning to paddle in the water. I got panic and struggled frantically in the water. But I kept my spirits. I knew there are perils for a girl to learn swimming in a boy’s school.

It took me a few months to master a certain stroke since we only had a weekly lesson, not a daily one. When it was almost time to leave school, I managed to swim reasonably well and in the deepest end of the pool.

No, I did not take part in any swimming competition. I have not reach that level yet but it is suffice to be able to swim at all. I am glad that I had achieved what I set out to do – to be able to swim.

Today, I still swim, actively. I was also able to teach my children to swim. It gave me great joy to see them gliding gracefully in the water, just like what I had always dream of doing, as a kid.

For this, I have the swimming pool of ACS to thank for!

Last year, on December 19th I took my family to visit the school.

“This is the swimming pool where your mommy first learn to swim!” I pointed out to my children.

“But it is a small pool. Not as big as the one we used to go to in KL!” they answered in unison.

“Yes, I know. But still, it was here that I first stepped into a pool and learn my first stroke. It is sentimental to me,” I told them.

“Then let’s take some photos of this place and video it for remembrance,” my husband suggested.

“I will do just that, for keep sake,” and then I proceeded to capture some photos and video the pool before we explored the whole school.

I took another look at the pool on the way out for I do not know when I will be coming back for another visit.

Cohort: 1983 Form 6 Upper Arts A

( Ipohgal @ http://188hughlowstreet.wordpress.com )

I wrote my first poem “The Executioner’s Song” at 16 and it got thrown out by the English teacher in MGS who deemed it too controversial for my own good.  Nice effort but next time, write something more common, she told me but I did not write anymore, not for the next thirty years! Today, I write again, mainly on my childhood days and anything that caught my attention and made me think. I am a homemaker, a mom to two teenagers, an amateur writer and blogger.

Email : francesyipyfliew@hotmail.com

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6 Responses to Yip Yoong Fong

  1. Dr Anthony (Swee Leong) Pun says:

    Hi IpohGal – It is a pity that some people do not recognize talent when they see it. In my younger days in ACS, I can’t put two words together and only scored P8 in English language in Form V.. I was only good at writing love letters and poems to my girlfriends. A good command of the language is not achievable overnight but a gradual development over a life time and constant use. Only now that I considered myself proficient in the language. Your childhood stories can later form a collection of essays which can be published. What you have is the ability to tell a story and to capture the attention of the reader. I have read your Ipohworld stories and they are good. I have a lot of respect for people who can get into Form VI which I failed to do. I visited Lo Mo’s office often because of my bad grammar but unfortunately, it did not improve my English. You should publish your Executioner’s Song in this blog for our appreciation.
    In regard to the swimming pool, I am making a bold claim that my class was the FIRST to swim in the swimming pool because Mr Ram rewarded us for cleaning up the place., Any challengers?

    • In this country, the word “creative” can be rather deceiving. When you are asked to write something creative, it better be something within the box, not outside of it. Therefore, an essay about a short holiday at the beach or how the neighbors put out a fire, not the poem about a condemned man being dragged to the noose, pleading innocence at death’s door, will get to win the writing competition. I learned this lesson at 16, the hard way. Got scolded and then have the piece of work thrown back into my face, all because I wanted to write something different from the rest. Sorry Tony, that poem, written in an exercise book, together with the rest of my other books, was thrown away when my family moved house. Anyway, it was 32 years ago. If only I know that some day, a guy by the name of Tony Pun from Sydney, would love to have a peep at it, I would have save it, just for you! Too bad, I could not predict the future.

      Some girls are rather attached to flowery words which I am sure you have mastered from other boys in school. After all, ACS is well-known for it’s stage plays. Thank you for showing some confidence in my writings, although they are very amateurish. I am still learning this craft and hopes to write better. I have a collection of short essays but I am not sure publishing them is a profitable thing to do.

      My most memorable times in this school were not spent in the classrooms but in the pool, learning to swim and having fun in the water. I think you must be very excited to dip your feet into the pool for the first time. Such memories lingers on.

      And Tony, I am still waiting to hear more from you about that special lady we called “Flower of Malaya”, you promised me on that night when we met…

    • Madi Maniam says:

      Agree. But there are a few of us who swam even when the pool was not yet completed. We could not resist the temptation when the concrete structure of the pool was tested for leakage with full water load. Typical of boys of that age i.e. Std. 6; when the only swimming pool we have seen and knew how to swim was the Kinta Swimming Pool in Silibin with the courtesy of Chong Chee Tut’s house being the changing room. Our other swimming experiences were in Kinta river and Pari river or our pinic trips to Tanjong Rambutan waterfall.
      We sneaked into the construction site at our school pool and enjoyed the impromptu swimming session until the gardener cum guard caught us. After pleading and promising that we would not do that again he let us off.
      I confess and hope no disciplinary action will be taken now.

      • Madi, boys are boys, in the pool, in the river or at the waterfalls – happy times are made of such stuffs 🙂 Thanks for sharing your youthful experiences 🙂

  2. Lam Lai Meng says:

    How interesting that a female ex student would have such fond memories of the ACS pool, especially when she was not even swimming for competition. Like Yoong Fong, I was intrigued by swimming. How does a body mass float on water? The ability to swim seemed an amazing feat to me, and I was eager to learn it. But the Kinta Swimming Club was out of the way and none of my pals went there. When I was in Form 1 in MGS Ipoh, in 1964, I discovered that a few of my gal pals went to swim in the ACS pool during the weekend, so I decided to join them in order to learn to swim. My coaches were my pals, who taught me the basic crawl. That was not my favourite stroke because I was always struggling to breathe, and was not strong enough to even swim the length of the pool. But I had great fun anyway. After I learnt to tread water, I even dared to jump from the 3 metre board feet first. Since I would be in the middle of the pool, the side of the pool (and safety!) was only a few strokes away. I stopped going to the pool when my pals lost interest.

    But when I entered Lower 6 in 1969, the weekly swimming class was the highlight of the week for me, although it was only for one period. I was always in a hurry to reach the pool to get in as much swimming time as possible whilst the rest of the class dragged their feet. My swimming didn’t really improve, but I could still stay afloat! Then came the dreaded annual swimming regatta. As usual, there was the girls’ 4 x 4 event. I was roped in to swim for Aziz House, because there were exactly only 4 girls who could swim! Thankfully, the organisers agreed to put Aziz House in the first lane so that I could grab the side wall if I panicked! Somehow, the adrenaline kicked in and I was able to complete the lap without stopping.

    After graduation form the University of Malaya, I joined the civil service and my first posting was to MINDEF. Happiness! Guess why? MINDEF had a pool! Wow! I grabbed the opportunity to use it after work, and that’s where I picked up the breaststroke – my favourite. I also took my kids there to swim when they were young. And it all started with the ACS pool,,,,,,. Thank you, ACS Ipoh!

    • I am glad to hear from another former MGS girl of how she learned swimming in the ACS pool. Thanks Lai Meng, for your sharing.

      I guess our experiences were the same – it was fun, hilarious and memorable to learn swimming at such a late age and in a boy’s school where the stares and wolf-whistles are enough to freak you out. But we persevered on, didn’t we?

      Today, swimming is an important part of my routine – I swim as often as I could, simply because it is the best exercise for cardiac health, it keeps one fit and trim. I managed to overcome shyness and fear of water too.

      If you ask me what is the best thing I learn from this school, I will still say it is swimming! Yes, I am grateful for that pool!

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