Kennedy School Y6 Swim Gala

"...We want to encourage... children (to) try their best..."

Sports Ambassadors Got Style a.k.a. If you haz brightly coloured 'fro, you iz someone in sports :)(they're usually sporty kids, on at least one school team, and charged with encouraging the other kids and getting them more enthusiastic about sports).. 


The kids really walk up to and sit in the chairs at that far end before approaching the starting podium, "just like in the Olympics," another mum tells me 😀

Huge event, with pages and pages of carefully organised heats, and both serious swim rounds and easier or "fun" rounds, totalling a whopping 4 hours in that blazing sun. Lotsa prior warnings from the school, that it was going to be super hot and sunny, and boy it really was. 

"...There's some children who never thought they could win a swimming event and here they've won some..."


Rockstar had 2 scheduled events (and swimming is by no means his thing.) Ok, I feel like a fluffy swim story is in order - my beloved Brisbane former boss used to describe to us in the dealing room how in Australian competitive swimming, they pick the kids for serious training quite early, and at least partly based on size/height. Somewhat incongruously, given our surroundings, he would talk about sheer arm span and hand size and what-not... and how those chosen kids trained and trained dawn til dusk from young and it was their whole life and later on their whole career... and I might be tempted to say Well My Kid Used To Be In The Lowest 5th Percentile For Size So Bye-Bye Competitive Swimming 😀 (though by now it's closer to 30th Percentile), but there were some pint-size "bullets" from his school torpedo-ing about the pool that day, it wasn't just the (very) tall kids who were strong swimmers (though some really were that amazing)..

And then my former boss would talk about how when he travelled in and out of Aussieland he'd drop that his (now former) son inlaw Kieren Perkins was coming to pick him up at the airport, and watch the Oh Great, Another Fruitcake flicker of irritation cross the face of the immigration officers checking his luggage...... until they looked up and saw Mr Perkins waiting at the Arrivals gate.

(Yes, most of us met him, he used to come into dwarf the little dealing room, and introductions were just art, in their meh-ness:

Boss: Hi --- meet my son-inlaw. <pause> His name is Kieren Perkins.
Local RM: Oh, hello. You must find Hong Kong quite different. Have you been to Yat Tung Heen? You must try their dim sum.
Boss: He's a competitive swimmer you know. He's swum in the Olympics.
Local RM: <looks the towering Mr Perkins up and down again> Oh yeah, can see that. You look like a swimmer. Well hope you enjoy your stay <wanders off>)

😀 Anyway. As for school swim meet, you should see the serious swimmers, some of those kids in the big events like 200m Butterfly/ Crawl/Backstroke/Breaststroke are really, really good. Like, Hang-On-That's-Not-A-Grownup-Charging-Up-And-Down-The-Pool It's A Little Kid -good. I asked another parent if their child trains and swims competitively and they were, "What? No, just.. <10 year old girl in question is bearing down the length of the pool in a brisk butterfly stroke> for fun.." Um, ok. 😀

Everyone got to "compete," and most of 'em in several events, just as though they were all strong swimmers.

There was so much effort put into organising this thing, with each child's name listed in each lane, volunteers pairing up to time them, and two "head timekeepers" doubling up to help check the times kept by the volunteers. Many of the kids were also moving between swimming in an event, picking up times scores and running them to the teachers, and cheering their friends and houses on.

There were also the "fun" races, where you have to get a beach ball across, or move with boards and noodles...

..and moving across the pool when attached to two other kids and their noodles 😀

...And thats all she wrote baby, thats our four hours in the sun!

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The Greig City Academy Sailing Club – A first, from a London Inner-City School

Something I found, about the same time I discovered there was such a thing as "sailing" after switching CNBC on one Sunday morning  😛

They've been working on this for a few years, the following Youtubes are from when they first got their boats (some from eBay*!) and then did some of their own refurbishments as part of school work in 2015, saying for some of these kids it would help keep them away from "crime and unsocial behaviour"..)

Several years later, just 775 views at press time... I especially liked when they said "if you work hard at something, at the end, there are great rewards"

This one, posted not by the school but by Halcyon Yachts also from 2015 with the beautifully meh introductory comment, "Greig City Academy, an inner city state school in London, have bought an old race boat" 😀

...and here's the prestigious Rolex Fastnet race they just competed in 2 years later (minute 11), placing 144th out of 368 entries...

 "They started from nothing... A group of teenaged students led by their Geography teacher took on sailing's biggest offshore event, the Rolex Fastnet Race... Until 3 years ago, none had any idea about sailing, let alone racing 600 miles offshore... and why should they, the Greig City Academy is an inner London school in a deprived area...there couldn't be fewer links to the sea...and even fewer to sailing..."

pic from article

Movie rights, anyone? (Haha they're probably already in talks... super funding opportunity for this inner-city school 🙂 )

ps: This article really struck me, because it occurred to me how hard it must have been for some of these kids to reach their goal - yet they managed anyway. Some of my mum's students used to be so exhausted in class - not from tuition or ECAs, but from helping their parents in night market stalls, or waiting tables or raising younger siblings... 

My mum taught (English) in upper secondary public schools her entire ~40 years of work life, and some of the schools were in the toughest neighbourhoods (by "tough" I mean "drove-her-new-car-to-school-and-it-got-carved-up-before-lunch-because-no-one-knew-yet-that-it-was-hers tough") and yes that was the apology she got, along with offers to beat the perpetrators up... 

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Rockstars In Tai Tong Organic Ecopark

Kids went to what is predominantly a petting zoo for them, over the national holiday...

Strike a pose

Open 9-6pm, last entry at 5pm..

If you like animals you should probably budget an extra hour...

Fine, two extra hours...

The stables are clean, airy and relatively sunny...

Pick a child...

Horsie (real name "Wasabisabi")  ate my hand

(These horses are so used to being given treats they keep gently stamping their hooves for more carrots)

"Belle's" stall was empty when we were feeding the others.. We soon find her here -

"All she wants for Christmas......"

Giving little kiddie rides! (Kids have to be 3 years and above)

Turns out, Belle is a bit of a celebrity

When she's not horsing around at the end of the day

Photo op...


(Some attractions are quite crowded, but not so much the animal ones, strangely.. and all around, well-labelled flora and fauna...)

Wait, hold that thought -

This one time when Hamster Ninja went "Daddy can I have one?" she meant..... ............................................................

Who let the cows out..

Rope playground

This the entrance to Animal Village, that houses emus, peacocks, goats, rabbits and guinea pigs

(In other words, Daddy Can I Have One City :D)

Those goat kids only drink milk though... and interestingly no one tries to touch them - our kids are probably the "worst" ones - I overhear one local mum telling her toddler something like "these things are full of worms" in Cantonese

We used to max out our leave for weeks in Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, and drive out to many Aussie petting zoos and wine valleys with the kids; I'd say this large Petting Zoo Where No One Pets The Animals out in Yuen Long is at least comparable, but with one key difference - no little kids following the little kids (:D sorry) about and not much risk of stepping on animal poop most of the time because much fewer animals are roaming freely... In fact, I think the stalls don't smell that much (those are animals after all) but I overhear at least a few complaints from local visitors, about the animals' smell...

Just these two were out, plus the two dark coloured kids in a previous pic

They look like chicken eggs..

Rockstar calls this the largest guinea pig home in the world 😀

OK - this one, we've never seen in Aussieland 😀

What are all these people doing??

This is what they call "net fishing" - and initially we're kinda dubious about all the little kids AND their parents crowding around this teeny little paddling pool with goldfish in it. There are a few other tubs around, all with goldfish in them, but you can't erm, "net fish" anywhere else but in this pool...

Turns out, the "nets" (note the "used" pile at right) are flimsy, made of a very delicate paper, that breaks apart very easily if you try to chase the goldfish to catch them - even swishing the "nets" too vigorously in the water breaks the paper

"You'll kill them -" Rockstar is stopped very quickly by attendants, when he uses his hands

As a result, both kids go through many, many, many nets, before........

Success (note broken paper near goldfish's tail).

Her too.

No kidding. That's part of Rockstar's total final haul.

And that's part of her haul (I didn't think to take final pictures of how many in total, but I think Rockstar had just under 20 and Hamster Ninja eventually had 8 or 9)

They spent more than an hour in the heat fishing for them things, and easily the first 20-30 mins they turned up absolutely nothing. Couldn't catch even one goldfish. We initially even wondered how the little local kids before us managed to get 2 or 3 fish to exchange for prizes. It takes awhile to learn to move the "nets" slowly, because otherwise the fish break through the paper quite easily...

In the end it was very rewarding, the kids felt so rewarded for their perseverance and we had a hard time getting the kids to leave, but it took a lot of patience, be warned 🙂

At the end of the game, the Fish Ninjas put their haul back in the kiddie pool, and get to pick a bag of two goldfish each, to bring home (a.k.a. Potential Unexpected Pet Hazard)

Family selfie (That is Rockstar's "Happy Face" for pictures :D)


Well of course we have to validate the Fish Ninja effort 🙂 So we went to the supermarket for goldfish supplies... Naturally the fish also came with 😀

"This could be your cousin..." Uh...

Hamster Ninja happily washing rocks for the "goldfish bowl"

One of em has "white spot", the fungal condition - fair warning, if you were thinking to put them in an existing tank you may want to look them over carefully), so I managed the kids expectations about how long these were going to live...

Next holiday we went back, to this haul:


(They pretty much empty the paddling pool, put everyone back in after, and then catch them all over again, with the exception of Hamster Ninja also offering her goldfish-catching services to various random other little kids)

So now we have 7. One died inexplicably from the first batch, but it wasn't the one with the fungal condition; and one of HN's fish has just one eye (which she thinks makes it special, and so she has named it One Eye) as she fusses over the tanks...

...prompting the "15 year old puppy" to demand more attention...

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