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Swimming Olympian Quah Zheng Wen

The Singapore Army recently celebrated the graduation of the new batch of recruits that has completed their basic military training on Pulau Tekong. 

They took it to Instagram on December 5 to proudly highlight each new recruit. However, if you have arrived at the last photo, you will notice someone familiar, it’s none other than Olympic swimmer Quah Zheng Wen.

Overflowing support

According to the post, he said, “I am now more sure about the things that I can do and it makes me more self-confident because of my experiences and lessons I’ve learned from the basic military training. However, I am planning to still continue to swim to represent the country and hoist our flag in the global competitions.”

In the post, people voiced out their support for the athlete in the comment section. They celebrated the athlete’s new role as a new soldier. One netizen wrote, “Quah Zheng Wen probably owned the olympic swimming pool lmao.” Another one wrote a short but supportive message for the Olympian, “go zheng!!”

Of course, the celebration is not complete without the support of his family. Quah’s sister and fellow national swimmer Quah Ting Wen shared Singapore Army’s post in an Instagram story about his brother’s milestones with a caption, “Proud sis.”

A perfect opportunity to serve more

It’s been a while since the last time we saw the 25-year old athlete. Five months ago, he competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In the competition, he raced his way in the 200m butterfly, the 100m backstroke, and the 100m butterfly.

The Ministry of Defence announced on September 16 that Quah as well as fellow swimmer Joseph Schooling were given a go to proceed to their military training as their deferment from 2014 and 2015 had ended. 

Back then before Quah’s enlistment, he took to social media about his gratitude towards the Singaporean government for his early deferment which he deemed as a privilege.

He wrote in an Instagram post,” I will always express my gratitude to the Singaporean government for the perfect opportunity to represent the country in both competitive swimming and being a soldier.”

Aside from that, he also expressed his plans to compete in the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games next year, and also included his qualification for the 2024 Olympics.

Similarities between swimming and serving in the military

Quah also expressed his sudden epiphany and reflections about the similarities between military training and competitive swimming. 

He said that the sense of belongingness that he felt and experienced in the BMT was a huge help and it was kind of similar to competing on the global stage for swimming. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of what we achieved as national athletes representing the country that we love. What we started together is tremendous and powerful,” he added.

He also reflected on his personal development throughout these years. He said that his experiences from both on the competition pool and on the training ground made him stronger and more confident. 

However, he knew that he can’t do both swimming and serving in the military at the same time. He also pointed out that even though he wants to be committed to being an athlete and participating in international competitions to represent the country, he chooses to continue being a soldier for now.

He said that swimming is good but serving the country through selfless acts to defend it is a duty and it is something that all men must go through. 


We now learned that Quah Zheng Wen is not just a swimming prodigy but also a dutiful soldier. This is a true testament that there are many avenues to serve the country and patriotism has different facets, whether you are striving to be better at sports or training vigorously to defend the nation.

Quah’s story is inspiring like other Singapore Olympians; if you like this one, check out other topics in The Straits Times.