Young Kiwis dive into Singapore

In Singapore for the Singapore Nationals, a group of young New Zealand divers maximised their time in the Southeast Asian nation by immersing themselves in the vibrant city and its myriad of attractions. With support from the Asia New Zealand Foundation Community Sports Fund, the team engaged in extracurricular activities that included an Amazing Race-style contest that showcased some of Singapore's iconic landmarks. In this piece, Team Manager Katrina Williams provides insights into the team's memorable visit, recounting the exciting experiences both within and beyond the competition arena.
The team gathered for a group photo in an airport terminal

The Diving New Zealand team was made up of of divers, coaches and team manager and supported by a group of parents

The thrills began while still in the air - our plane coming in to land in a thunderstorm! From there on it was all action.

Day 1 - acclimatising to Singapore, amazing race, Gardens by the Bay

On our first full day in Singapore, the group hit the ground running, with the 23 divers and three coaches split into teams for an ‘Amazing Race’ around the city.

Teams had to work out destination clues and then complete challenges at some of the city’s historical and culturally significant places.

The course took them to Pancur Larangan at Fort Canning – a replica of the forbidden spring - where members of Singapore’s first royal court used to bathe. From there it was on to  Singapore’s iconic Merlion statue and the bustling streets of Chinatown where they saw many beautiful temples and had a taste of some durian treats. At the architecturally fascinating Helix Bridge, one team even brought a little New Zealand culture - singing the national anthem and adding a haka into the mix.

nine of the divers wearing green leis and looking at instructions with the Singapore skyline behind them

The Amazing Race had team members racing round Singapore visiting sites of interest

This fun teambuilding exercise helped the athletes get to know a little about Singapore, see some famous sights, familiarise themselves with using the MRT and acclimatise to the humid temperatures (although some were cooled down quickly when one of Singapore’s famously sudden and heavy downpours hit… luckily, they’re used to being wet!).

In the evening of this first day, the team visited Singapore’s incredible Supertree Grove, taking in a birds-eye view of Singapore’s cityscape from the skyway between the treetops. We then took in the Gardens by the Bay light show, Garden Rhapsody, set to songs of Singapore in celebration of the city’s National Day earlier in the month.

Day 2 – training and night safari

Day two in Singapore was all about training, but we capped it off with an evening adventure at Singapore’s renowned Night Safari at Mandai Wildlife Reserve, arriving in time to board the first tram of the evening.

The tour took us on a tour for some up-close views of various Asian animals and included commentary about endangered species and conservation efforts being undertaken by the Mandai Wildlife Reserve Team.

After the tram ride (and a quick stop for ice-cream) everyone headed off in groups to explore the park on foot via the various trails. This was a unique experience for everyone, enabling clear and close views of many animals and an opportunity to see how they behave at night-time.

The divers in a room with lion dance lions on either side of the group

On the evening before day one of the competition the team got to experience a lion dance and share a BBQ

Day 3 - training, cultural activities and Singapore BBQ

The daytime encompassed another double training, with the team going to the pool both in the morning and afternoon, with a well-earned, post-lunch rest at the hotel in between.

That evening, a group of more than 40 people (made up of the team and travelling supporters and parents) gathered on the pool deck of the hotel for a celebration to mark the upcoming competition, due to start the following afternoon.

A montage of five photos showing the diving team doing various activities in around Singapore, including trying durian and standing in front of the Singapore skyline

As a special cultural experience, a Lion Dance was performed by local Lion Dance Centre, Tian Eng to bring the team luck and good fortune for their upcoming event. For most of the guests, this was the first time they had ever experienced a lion dance in person and the delight was clear on everyone’s face.

The evening was a great success with delicious Singaporean style BBQ food cooked poolside by the hotel chef. The hotel team introduced the team to a favourite Singaporean activity – karaoke – and without too much encouragement the athletes were happy to perform their favourite hits. The evening was a great success and ensured everyone headed for bed relaxed and happy before the next day’s competition.

Competition days

Thursday to Saturday were long competition days at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, which is part of the impressive National Sports Hub.

As well as an amazing chance to compete against divers from Singapore, Malaysia, Beijing, Macau and India, the team enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the other divers, sharing contact information, exchanging pins/badges and in some cases even swapping shirts and jackets for a lasting memento.

It was a hugely successful event for the New Zealand team, who collectively earned seven gold medals, 13 silver medals and 14 bronze.

The New Zealand team won 34 medals in total

Last day in Singapore - Universal Studios and post-competition retail therapy

The team was given a choice of activities for the last full day in Singapore, and the majority wanted to spend the day at Universal Studios Singapore on Sentosa Island. Fortunately, everyone had express passes, meaning that there were plenty of rides enjoyed and not too much time spent in queues.

After a day of thrills and excitement, the evening was spent with some well-earned retail therapy and a chance to try some local treats before heading back to the hotel to pack for an early morning flight home the next day.

The Foundation's Sports Programme provides New Zealand sportspeople opportunities to grow more knowledgeable, connected and confident with Asia.

The Community Sports Fund provides funding for community groups travelling to Asia to engage in cultural activities.