Nguyen Thi Anh Vien was brought to water to swim by her grandfather when she was three years old.

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The first ‘pool’ in her life was the bố Cao Canal that runs in front of her house in Giai Xuan Commune, Phong Dien District, Can Tho đô thị in the Mekong Delta.

Her first professional swimming teacher was Vo Thanh Binh, the coach of the Army Sports Center No. 4 under the 9th Military Zone in Can Tho.

Who is Nguyen Thi Anh Vien? She is the winner of four gold medals và breaker of five records at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games going on in Singapore till June 16.

Vien has also grabbed a silver và a bronze at the tournament, which is held every two years.

Her four gold medals came from the women’s 200m backstroke, women’s 200m individual medley, women’s 400m individual medley, và women’s 800m freestyle.

The swimmer is now 19 years old & wears the chevron of a captain of the Vietnam People’s Army. She was born on November 9, 1996 và is 173cm tall và weighs 60kg.

First impression from first coach

Coach Vo Thanh Binh met Anh Vien in 2007 when he was assigned khổng lồ select & recruit swimming prospects for the army sports center.

Just a couple of months past the age of ten, Vien won a silver medal at the Phu Dong national sports festival in 2007.

“She displayed passion in her swimming style và competition spirit,” Binh recalled. “I was especially impressed by her spirit.”

After selecting Vien, the coach came to lớn Long Tuyen 1 Elementary School in Binh Thuy District, where she was enrolled, to recommend her sports teacher there pay attention to lớn her và take chances to connect with her family.

Binh also found the way to Vien’s family & persuaded her parents to allow her khổng lồ train at the army sports center.

Her parents were hesitant about the suggestion but her grandfather supported it, và the swimmer was finally sent to the center.

With the bold và strong characteristics of a man growing up in the Mekong Delta, her grandfather took her to lớn the canal in the front garden lớn teach her swimming in a ‘weird’ way.

“He carried Vien & some of her cousins to lớn the canal, swam to the middle of the waterway, and dived under the water,” said Nguyen Van Tac, Vien’s father.

“The kids had khổng lồ swim back khổng lồ the ngân hàng by themselves.

“They could swim well and quickly that way.”

The kids initially tried khổng lồ reach their granddad in the water but he kept his distance from them and stepped back to lớn prove to lớn them that they could swim themselves without help.

A strong girl

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Nguyen Thi Anh Vien (L) is congratulated by one of her competitors after she wins a swimming event at the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Learning at the army center meant Vien had to stay far from trang chủ and could only visit her family once every week.

Most trainees there cried since they missed home but Vien rarely did, Binh said. She could quickly imitate swimming movements, he added.

After training for three months, Binh took Vien và others to take part in a swimming contest of the southern Vietnamese region in Dong Thap Province and she won a bronze medal.

“I was then just a student & was not awarded an official contract with the army sports center,” said coach Binh. “But I was so happy with the bronze medal that I couldn’t hold back my tears.

“It relieved my worry of gaining nothing at the competition.”

The coach added, “Coaches at the grassroots level are so happy if their learners collect medals at domestic tournaments. For Vien, it’s out of my expectations. So happy!”

Now, Vien often chats with her first coach after her victories.

Since she began pursuing a swimming career, the athlete has had little time to lớn visit her parents & family.

During the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday in February, Vien had only 24 hours to lớn stay with her family.

“Realizing that we are permanently worried about her, Vien assured us that she will win vị trí cao nhất prizes so that we won’t need to lớn worry anymore,” her mother said.

For many times, Vien had khổng lồ celebrate Tet – Vietnam’s most important festival – far from home to pursue her career.

Vien was admitted into the army and is now the youngest captain in its history.

Last year, she was promoted by two chevrons, the first time that has happened.

Vien’s coaches said that she can reap the achievements partly thanks to her training sessions in the U.S., as well as her spirit & professional manner.

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Singaporean swimming commentator Ang Peng Siong, who won a gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games in India, awarded Anh Vien the nickname of ‘the golden woman of the SEA Games.’

The Vietnamese swimmer is completely able lớn compete in Asian & world tournaments, Ang added.

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