Ang Peng Siong

Once nicknamed Asia’s “Flying Fish” by the media,1 former competitive swimmer Ang Peng Siong (b. 27 October 1962, Singapore–)2 was ranked first in the world in 1982 when he clocked a time of 22.69 s in the 50-metre freestyle at the United States swimming championship.3 This was Singapore’s national record for 32 years.4 In the course of his 16-year career from 1977 to 1993, Ang won an impressive haul of 20 gold medals in eight Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, received the All-American Award for four consecutive years (1981–1984), and was the record holder of the fastest 50-metre freestyle time in Asia for 14 years (1982–1996).5 He also held the SEA Games record of 23.27 s in the 50-metre freestyle for 13 years (1987–2000).6

Early life
Ang is the fourth child in a family of five siblings.7 His father, Ang Teck Bee, was a former pool supervisor and had participated in the judo segment of the 1964 Olympics.8 The elder Ang introduced his children to sports at an early age9 – Ang learnt swimming from his father at the tender age of five.10 During his secondary school days, his father also put him and his siblings under a regimen of strength-building and weight-lifting exercises.11 Ang credits his Anglo-Chinese School swimming coaches, Wee Moh Nam and Lenn Wei Ling, as well as the weight-training programme his father put him through early in life, for his success.12

Competitive swimming career
Ang first represented Singapore at the age of 15 at the 1977 SEA Games held in Kuala Lumpur,13 where he won a silver medal for the 4 × 100-metre freestyle relay.14 In 1980, Ang took part in the Hawaiian International Invitational Swimming Championship15 and was the only non-American swimmer to qualify for the prestigious 50-metre freestyle sprint final.16

At age 16, Ang made his international debut at the 1978 Asian Games,17 and became the first Singaporean swimmer to be offered an overseas scholarship when he was talent-spotted at the meet.18 He was offered a full athletics scholarship to study at the University of Houston.19 Under the tutelage of coach Phil Hansel between 1980 and 1986,21 Ang improved tremendously.21 He went on to win the gold medal in the 50-yard freestyle event at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I for University of Houston in 1983.22

In August 1982, Ang became the world’s fastest 50-metre freestyle swimmer when he clinched the gold medal with a time of 22.69 s at the US National Championship held in Indiana.23 He held this record in Singapore for 32 years until it was beaten with a time of 22.47 s by 19-year-old Singapore swimmer, Joseph Schooling, in the 2015 SEA Games.24 Later in 1982, Ang also bagged the gold medal for the 100-metre freestyle and a bronze in the 100-metre butterfly at the Asian Games in New Delhi.25 The following year, Ang was awarded the title of “World’s Fastest Swimmer” for his 1982 triumph at the US championship.26

Ang was named “Sportsman of the Year” by the Singapore National Olympic Council in 1982, 1983 and 1984,27 becoming the first athlete to win the coveted award for three consecutive years.28 He was also inducted into the Singapore Sports Council Sports Museum Hall of Fame.29

In the course of his swimming career, Ang has had a couple of near-brushes with Olympic fame.30 In 1984, he won the 100-metre freestyle Olympic B consolation finals at a new national record time of 51.09 s.31 Then in the 1988 Seoul Olympics 50-metre freestyle B finals, he came in third at a time of 23.39 s, missing the A finals by one place.32 

Other significant highlights in Ang’s career include gold medal wins in the 50-metre freestyle event at the 1988 Asian Championships and the 1993 SEA Games held in Singapore, plus a silver medal in the same event at the 1990 Asian Games held in Beijing.33 In 2002, at the age of 40, he took 24.64 s to complete the 50-metre freestyle event at the World Masters in Christchurch, a mere two seconds shy of his time achieved two decades ago.34 At the same meet, Ang displayed his versatility by taking home the gold medal in his age group’s (40–44 years old) 50-metre butterfly event in a time of 26.52 s. He also finished third in the 50-metre breast stroke and the 100-metre freestyle, clocking a time of 57.42 s in the latter event, and was placed fourth in the 50-metre backstroke competition.35 

Retirement from swimming
On 11 August 1993, Ang announced his retirement from competitive swimming.36 At the time, Ang needed to raise S$75,000 for his participation in the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games but suitable sponsorship was not forthcoming.37 Three years later, he founded the APS Swim School at Farrer Park38 and has since groomed many sports personalities like Christel Bouvron and Mark Chay.39 He also coaches swimmers from the Singapore Paralympics Team.40 


In 2009, Ang became the national swimming head coach, the first Singaporean to be appointed to such a high-profile position by the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA). He was tasked not only with coordinating and planning the policies, strategies and national objectives for the national team, but also organising and lending focus to the team. Taking on this new portfolio meant that Ang had to quit his position as managing director of Aquatic Performance Swim School.41

Besides his stint with the SSA, which had ended by September 2012,42 Ang has also been the head coach of the Singapore swimming team at various major events such as the SEA Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.43 He was also one of the Board of Governors of the Singapore Sports School.44  

Awards
1982: Sportsman of the Year45
1983: Public Service Medal;46 Sportsman of the Year
1984: Public Service Star;47 Sportsman of the Year
1987: International Olympic Committee Award for Excellence in Sports & Studies48   



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Joshua Chia Yeong Jia



References
1. Tey C. W., “The Cruising Human Torpedo: An Interview with Freestylist Ang Peng Siong,” in Achievements off the Beaten Track: Stories of Singapore Sports Veterans (Singapore: Candid Creation Publishing, 2005), 107. (Call no. YRSING 796.09225957 ACH) 
2. Low Kar Tiang, ed., Who’s Who in Singapore 2006 (Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., 2006), 35. (Call no. RSING 920.05957 WHO)
3. Tommy Koh et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2006), 32. (Call no. RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Singapore Book of Records, Singapore Book of Records (Singapore: Singapore Book of Records, 2006), 149. (Call no. RSING 959.57 SBR-[HIS]) 
4. Chua Siang Yee, “SEA Games: Schooling Wins 50m Free Gold, Breaks Ang Peng Siong’s 32-Year-Old National Record,” Straits Times, 8 June 2015. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
5. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore 2006, 36; “Our Founder,” APS Swim School, accessed 7 April 2016.
6. APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
7. Wu S. S., “Peng Siong’s Splashing Success,” Teens, October 1990, 26–27. (Call no. RSING 170.20223 T); Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 109.
8. Nick Aplin, David Waters and Leong May Lai, Singapore Olympians: The Complete Who’s Who, 1936–2004 (Singapore: SNP Reference, 2005), 167. (Call no. RSING 796.09225957 APL); Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 110.
9. Wu, Teens, 26–27; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 109.
10. APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
11. APS Swim School, “Our Founder”; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 110.
12. APS Swim School, “Our Founder”; Wu, Teens, 26–27; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 109, 119.
13. APS Swim School, “Our Founder”; Wu, Teens, 26–27; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 111. 
14. APS Swim School, “Our Founder”; Wu, Teens, 26–27; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 111. 
15. Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 167; APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
16. APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
17. Koh, et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 32; Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 167.
18. Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 167; Wu, Teens, 26–27; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 115. 
19. Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 167; APS Swim School, “Our Founder”; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 115–116. 
20. APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
21. Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 167.
22. Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 170; APS Swim School, “Our Founder”; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 113.
23. Janice Seah, “Electrifying Peng Siong…,” Straits Times, 22 August 1982, 32. (From NewspaperSG); Singapore Book of Records, 149; Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 167, 170.
24. Chua, “SEA Games.”
25. Koh, et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 32; Shirlynn Ho, “Peng Siong Calls it a Day at Last,” Straits Times, 12 August 1993, 30. (From NewspaperSG); Singapore Book of Records, 149; Wu, Teens, 26–27.
26. APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
27. Ho, “Peng Siong Calls it a Day at Last”; Koh, et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 32; Low, Who’s Who in Singapore 2006, 35.
28. Singapore Book of Records, 149; Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 170.
29. Lin Fanwei 林方伟, “Zoujin shiguang suidao tiyu bowuguan shoucang woguo titan de jiaoao” “走进时光隧道 体育博物馆收藏我国体坛的骄傲,” Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报 , 17 July 2002, 35. (From NewspaperSG); Koh, et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 32; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 114.
30. Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 167, 170.
31. Koh, et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 32; Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 169, 171; Singapore Book of Records, 149; APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
32. Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 167; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 114.
33. Ho, “Peng Siong Calls It a Day at Last.”
34. Koh, et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 32; Chan Tse Chueen, “Master Ang Splashes to Gold in 50m Butterfly,” Straits Times, 26 March 2002, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
35. Chan, “Master Ang Splashes to Gold in 50m Butterfly”; APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
36. “Swimmer’s Decision to Retire Is a Sad but Wise One,” Straits Times, 12 August 1993, 30. (From NewspaperSG) 
37. Ho, “Peng Siong Calls it a Day at Last”; Chua C. J., “His Fire is Still Burning Bright,” Man: Life & Style, June–July 1993, 74. (Call no. RSING 052 M) 
38. APS Swim School, “Our Founder”; Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 109.
39. Jonathan Wong, “SSA Turns To Ang,” Straits Times, 24 March 2009, 31. (From NewspaperSG); Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 117.
40. Tey, “The Cruising Human Torpedo,” 120.
41. Wong, “SSA Turns To Ang.”
42. Adelene Wong, Watch Out The Growl Is Back: Turner Back Doing What He Does Best. Today, 31 October 2013, 50. (From NewspaperSG)
43. Koh, et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 32; Low, Who’s Who in Singapore 2006, 35; Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 169.
44. Koh, et al. eds. Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 32.
45. Ho, “Peng Siong Calls it a Day at Last”; Koh, et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 35.
46. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore 2006, 35; APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
47. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore 2006, 35; APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”
48. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore 2006, 35; Alpin, Waters and Leong, Singapore Olympians, 167; APS Swim School, “Our Founder.”



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Swimmers--Singapore--Biography
Sports, recreation and travel>>Water sports>>Swimming
Sports and games
Recreation>>Sports
Personalities
Ang Peng Siong, 1962-
Personalities>>Biographies