Homeschooled 5th Grader is swimming champion
Every so often I hear news of a homeschooler who discovers her passion and excels, and I am thrilled! 5th Grader Clarissa Chee from Penang who is home educated using distance learning resources from Dalat International School is also a champion swimmer. Here’s the story:
Clarissa is a fast learner.
Like gold medal kind of fast. Like Malaysia National Swimming Champion kind of fast. It took her less time to start a sport and climb to its national peak than it did to finish 5th Grade.
Clarissa won the 100-meter breastroke at Malaysia’s National Age Group Swimming Championships last month in Bukit Jalil, less than a year after she began competitive swim training.
“I think I did pretty well,” Clarissa said of her performance.
Pretty well is pretty impressive.
Clarissa won her race by 2 hundredths of a second over the second-place finisher from Selangor. She also competed in other events like the backstroke and 50-meter breastroke with mostly top ten results.
She trains for three hours a day, six days a week to get this kind of success. Although it takes up much of her time, she said she enjoys the daily grind.
The homeschooled 5th Grader started swimming about a year ago on her mom’s suggestion. Before she knew it, Clarissa began shaving seconds off her time and competing for gold medals in several events.
She attributes part of her success in swimming to homeschooling.
At a local public school in Penang, her parents felt all her time went toward studying for exams. They knew Clarissa had passions and they wanted her to chase those dreams, but at school, she didn’t have the time nor the energy.
“I felt she wasn’t gaining knowledge,” her mom ChekLi said. “Now we give her freedom with what she wants to pursue. She can go in depth rather than on the surface.”
With a flexible schedule as a homeschooler, Clarissa can work on her swimming every day, which is clearly effective. She also trains in Tae Kwon Do and competes in gymnastics at local MSSPP events. After spending most of her childhood in Arizona, USA, Clarissa wants to focus more on her English so she can return to the U.S. to attend college.
When it comes to sports here in Penang, Clarissa considers herself a Dalat International School athlete.
Her family is closely associated with Dalat’s Distance Learning Resource Center, run by Jonathan Steffen. The center has a full library of textbooks and resources intended for homeschool kids like Clarissa. Steffen provides curriculum guidance for parents who aren’t sure where to start when it comes to homeschooling their kids and Dalat allows these kids to compete in sports here at the school.
For Clarissa, this gold medal in Malaysia is quite an achievement. But it’s not the end.
Like all her passions, Clarissa has big goals she wants to accomplish. For swimming, she wants to compete in the ASEAN age group championships. She has to wait a couple of years in order to qualify. She also knows she has to reduce her swim times and that takes hard work.
But looking at her history, it took her one year to win gold in Malaysia. Imagine what she can do with two more.
(Reprinted with permission from Dalat International School)
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