BISP Swimmers – The Next Generation

Photo Courtesy: BISP Phuket

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

The next generation of British International School, Phuket (BISP) swimmers have a lot to live up to. The legacy left behind by graduating swimmers like Roxanne Yu and Jethro Chua, both of whom broke records for their homeland of the Philippines and turned heads on the international stage, will be carried on by homegrown talents.

Both 15-year-old Syakirah Frost and 13-year-old Tanylle Ashenden spent considerable time in BISP before joining the school’s heralded High Performance Swim Team (HPST), a program that began in August 2013 and includes some of the top swimmers from countries all over the world, including Malaysia, Philippines, Hungary, Singapore, Namibia and the Seychelles.

Now, after a full year with the HPST under their belts, the girls believe they are ready to take it up a notch.

“When I was in Flying Fish [the club swim team for BISP] we were a bit separated from HPST because of the size of the team and level of swimmers. I would watch [the HPST swimmers] from the other pool and hoping I would be able to move up,” said Ashenden, a native-Australian who joined the team a year ago when she was 12.

Since joining the squad, Ashenden has skyrocketed to the top 10 of the Australian youth swimming rankings and recently qualified for the 2016 Australian National Championships in the 100m fly in addition to other achievements.

Similarly, Frost has been at BISP for eight years and began competing at age 10. She moved up to the team last year, along with Ashenden, and then came 2nd in the Singapore Age Group Championships in both the 100m and 50m backstroke in addition to her first place finish in the South Thailand Championships in her age groups, a feat she repeated two years in a row.

“Those two girls are on the rise,” said Chris Gaffney, one of the coaches of the HPST at the school and a former competitive swimmer. “Having swam in college myself, and coach Simon [Jones] as well, we know the demands with academics.

The school, they really work with us and the kids because it is a demanding sport. These guys are up at 4:30am every morning. It is demanding but they’ve done a great job.”

The demands of high level competition swimming is not lost on Frost and Ashenden as they take inspiration from their fellow teammates.

“I was inspired by all the older swimmers. They’ve been helping me the past year,” said Frost, who has travelled around the world to countries like Hong Kong, Australia and United Arab Emirates since joining the team.

“The level of competition is so much higher than I was use to. It’s really changed my perspective on how I see swimming… the team is like a family, they help you get through everything.

Still, if you ask Gaffney, growth comes with the territory.

“The improvements they’ve made, it’s not just reflected in the pool, obviously that’s what everybody sees. But as coaches we see how they’ve grown in terms of maturity level, how they approach mentally coming to practice everyday and handling academics. That’s our main goal as coaches, to not only get them through the year but to remain lifelong learners and get them prepared for life whether its in the sport or in any other of their passions,” he said.

For more information on the British International School, Phuket (BIS) Swim Academy, visit: – or contact Head Coach Simon Jones:

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  1. Stephanie P. Kieft

    Asia Bonali Lilli Seubert Adriaan Provo Kluit WTF! BIS ?