Vietnamese swimming star tries Red River

By Hieu Luong   March 14, 2024 | 02:35 am PT
Swimming icon Nguyen Thi Anh Vien dived into the water of Red River in Hanoi for the first time for a new experience after retiring in 2022.

Vien participated in the experience with a club swimming club specializing in rivers, lakes, and seas, on March 11.

She swam for about an hour in the Red River at the foot of Long Bien Bridge and Chuong Duong Bridge in Hanoi.

As the former number one swimmer in Vietnam, Vien is not used to swimming in rivers. Therefore, she needs team members to guide her in wearing gear, navigating and feeling the water flow and terrain.

Vien also took time to adapt to the winter weather in Hanoi and the cold water temperature of the Red River.

Cựu kình ngư số một Việt Nam Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên bơi trải nghiệm sông Hồng hôm 11/3. Ảnh: Facebook/Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên

Nguyen Thi Anh Vien after swimming in the Red River in Hanoi for the first time on March 11, 2024. Photo by Facebook/Nguyen Thi Anh Vien

Nguyen Ngoc Khanh, founder of the club, said Vien adapted very quickly and showed a completely different level of swimming technique and speed.

When Vien was still competing, she was known as a comprehensive swimmer in all four styles: butterfly, freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke.

"Anh Vien says she loves swimming in the river. She has been swimming in a chlorinated pool for 18 years and felt very bored of it. This is the first swimming trip that helps Vien break the limit of her everyday life," Khanh said

Vien, 26, is the most successful Vietnamese swimmer in history.

During 10 years of her professional career, Vien won 25 SEA Games golds, a silver and a bronze in Asian tournaments, two bronze at Asian Games, a Youth Olympic gold and many more.

She has dominated domestic swimming in Vietnam for years, holding many accolades and records.

She participated in the Olympics 2016 and 2021 but couldn't make it past the first round in both events.

From 2012-2019, her total investment budget reached over $1.3 million - the most ever for a Vietnamese athlete.

After retiring in 2022, Vien became a swimming instructor at a center in Ho Chi Minh City and her schedule is full seven days a week.

She also built her own media channel to teach swimming and drowning prevention with the trademark line: "Swimming is easy, let Vien show you."

Ánh Viên dạy bơi tại một trung tâm ở TP HCM sau khi giải nghệ vào tháng 12/2022. Ảnh: Facebook/Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên

Anh Vien as a swimming instructor after retirement. Photo by Facebook/Nguyen Thi Anh Vien

Vien’s swimming experience in the Red River surprised many people.

Khanh said that the idea of inviting Vien came in January 2024, when some members of the club made the proposal.

A month later, on a business trip to Ho Chi Minh City, he arranged to meet Vien through some personal contacts. A day later, Anh Vien accepted the invitation.

Vien has never experienced river swimming before, partly because this movement is not popular in southern Vietnam so it’s difficult for her to find such an experience.

The swimmer said she was quite surprised because the water in the Red River was clear and clean, different from the areas in Ho Chi Minh City and her hometown in the Mekong Delta.

In addition, rivers in the south have many dangerous animals, typically crocodiles, she said.

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