Just when you think you're tough enough


5-time World Masters Swimming Champion Cindy Ong Inspires Family Streak

Coming from a family of swimmers, it was only natural that 37-year old Cindy Ong, a mother of 3 children, took up swimming when she was five years old.

Born and raised in Ipoh, the family genes definitely powered Cindy to world-class swimming competitions representing Malaysia to win 5 golds and 2 silvers. She also excels academically with equal tenacity earning double degrees in three-and-a-half years in New York, USA. The buck does not stop there as she also inspires her son into the family swimming trait.

ToughASIA paddled up to Cindy Ong to find out how she’s currently trying to stay afloat in spite of the nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO).

ToughASIA: What inspired you to take up swimming?

Cindy: I guess it wasn’t an option for me. I was put into swimming before I could choose. My aunt, Ong Mei Lin swam in the 1972 Munich Olympics, while my dad and uncle were school and state swimmers.

So, it was natural for my family to put kids into swimming from a young age. Additionally, my brother, Allen Ong swam in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics.

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ToughASIA: What keeps you motivated to train now, even when there are no races?

Cindy: I have world championships in May-June 2022. It does take 1 to 2 years to properly train for a world stage race, so I trained throughout the lockdowns. I used to swim 5 times weekly but since the lockdown happened, I do 8 land workouts weekly instead.

ToughASIA: How did you manage to keep fit or train at the time when swimming pools were not allowed to open?

Cindy: I lead a group of swimmers in land workouts weekly that were specially curated for swimmers and forced myself to lead by example so I do all the exercises with them.

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ToughASIA: What is your proudest achievements in swimming?

Cindy: 5 golds and 2 silvers in 2019 World Masters Championships in Gwangju, Korea. I’ve never won anything on the world stage before, so winning 5 golds (being world No.1 for 5 times – was totally mind-blowing for me.

ToughASIA: How do you manage time between training and family?

Cindy: My eldest son actually trains with me while my husband takes the other two when I am training. On weekdays, I only swim when they are in school so it does not really clash with my motherhood duties.

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ToughASIA: Do any of your children participate in swimming or any other sports?

Cindy: My eldest son is a state swimmer and one of the fastest in the country for his age. I believe he may have been inspired by me as he does look up to me.

ToughASIA: Are you looking forward to any competition in particular in 2021 or beyond ?

Cindy: Yes! The world masters championships happen once every 2 years. The last one was in 2019 and the one in 2021 has been postponed to 2022. I’m looking forward to competing in Fukuoka!

ToughASIA: How did you celebrate Mother’s Day in this year?

Cindy: In a lockdown. My anniversary is actually on 7th May and that was the first day of lockdown in KL unfortunately.

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