“Do what you like. Just enjoy the game.”

Ellyse Chong, the 1st Youth Ambassador for the World Maritime Heritage Society (WMHS), learnt to cycle when she was 5 years old. She started swimming in Primary 5 and took up competitive water polo 3.5 years ago, in Secondary 1. Feeling that she needed to improve her legwork in the water, she decided to take up cycling in earnest. Every Sunday, she wakes up at 2.45 am and cycles with her dad at 3 am, returning home around 7.15 am after cycling 70 km.

“I think it’s the bonding with my dad – that I like most about cycling.”

During the weekdays, Ellyse and her dad do not have a lot of time together because she is busy with her water polo training which starts at 7 pm and finishes at 8.30 pm currently (though normally, it ends at 10 pm). By the time she reaches home, it is 10 pm; she has to leave home in the morning at 6 am for her school, Zhonghua Secondary.

Initially, Ellyse started with 45 km, cycling straight roads such as the Changi coastal road. Recently, she has been cycling to Sentosa which has more hill slopes. She notices that the air seems stuffy and smells of petrol when cycling at night but in the morning, the air seems very fresh. At 3 am, there is not much traffic; at 5 am, when she passes Punggol while cycling, she sees traffic starting to build up.

Ellyse’s dad has cycled for a very long time. He and his army friends took up cycling at the same time, over 20 years ago. Ellyse recalls that her dad once cycled all the way to Thailand with one of his cycling buddies over a span of one week.

When cycling, Ellyse follows her dad’s speed. On the return journey, they usually stop at a petrol kiosk to get some isotonic drinks and maybe, a pao (bun).

Four times a week, Ellyse goes for her water polo training at the OCBC Aquatic Centre in Kallang.

“Usually, during water polo training, we do swim sets – two times 6 sets of 100 m in a 2 minute round which means that whatever time you come in at, once the clock hits 2 minutes, you have to keep going, no stopping, no rest.”

Ellyse usually completes one set with 15-20 seconds left. Her favourite stroke is the backstroke “because you can see whatever is going on ‘up there’.” In Primary 5, at the end of the year, she went for a swimming competition at The Royal Bangkok Sports Club in Thailand. “There were two
levels of spectators. When I kicked off and started swimming, my mum was at the 2nd level left and I could see her cheering me on.”

Behind Ellyse’s dedication to her sport is her greatest motivation and support: her family.

This June, come together with your family to walk, jog, cycle and swim to support our heroes at sea.