Photo credit: BENJAMIN KHENG

Y-Talk: Benjamin Kheng sheds light on his days as a national youth swimmer

In the first episode of Y-Talk, the artiste also outlines his hopes for the sports industry in Singapore.

Phoon Jia Hui

Jack of all trades, master of drinking boba milk tea.

Published: 10 December 2020, 11:34 AM

Before making his debut with local band The Sam Willows in 2012, Benjamin Kheng was a national youth team swimmer. 

He started swimming when he was six and later enrolled in the Singapore Sports School. He also represented the country in youth competitions. 

“When I was there (Singapore Sports School), it was really full-on,” he told host Amanda Chaang in the first episode of Y-Talk, Youthopia’s signature video series where we meet outspoken and driven youths to discuss what they’re passionate about. 

“We were doing training twice a day, with up to 10 to 12 sessions a week. Training would comprise of 6km to 7km in the pool per session. You’re doing an upwards of 12km to 13 km a day and your whole life was just in the pool.

“It’s crazy to think about what athletes go through because you invest so much time into one year just for that five minutes of competition time that makes or breaks your whole year.”

The singer-cum-actor added that the amount of pressure put on student athletes, or any young athlete anywhere in the world, is “immense”. 

“The things I do now pales in comparison to the kind of pressure that these guys go through, so really hats off to them,” said the 30-year-old.

Benjamin also explained that he had peaked too early in his swimming career, which proved to be the turning point in his sporting career.

“As a sports person, you have a specific window where you should be killing it and it’s called a peak,” he said. 

“Obviously, you want to peak at around your 20s but I peaked too early. Back in the day, these coaches would really just give it to you so I peaked really young, around like 14 to 16, and then I plateaued.” 

“For me, I felt like I needed an intense amount of passion and dedication to get there. I could see people who were getting there and I realised that my passions lay somewhere else,” 

While his blitzy career in the showbiz may suggest that Benjamin made the right choice, he admitted that there’s still some regret that he did not become a professional swimmer. 

He may not be involved in the sporting scene these days, but Benjamin has hopes of seeing the sporting scene in Singapore flourish. He also hoped for Singapore athletes to get the recognition they deserve, because of the sheer hard work they put in to get to where they are – something that most people might not realise. 

“From an entertainment perspective, I want these guys to be celebrated,” he noted. 

“They are storytellers in their own right. They are telling stories that are super inspiring and passionate. If we can learn to celebrate these people, then there’s more attention and the industry gets better. We (might even) see more kids take up their sporting gear!” 

With the government recently rolling out the Sports Resilience Package (SRP) to help local sports tide through difficult times, Benjamin believes this can only be beneficial for lesser-known sports.   

“My mind immediately goes to kids who have passion for maybe a bit more unorthodox sports,” he said. 

“Unlike swimming or football who have got associations to support them, there are others like underwater hockey and rugby. We’re pretty good but obviously this SRP will do these small groups of sports people a world of good as that just means more funding, more avenues for training and resources.”

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