2 simple tips to pacing yourself better in a race


Swimming has become such a complex sport that every detail matters in a race. A bad pace into the first 50m, and the whole race will be over. Imagine all the months of hard work just got screwed over by 1 bad pace at the first 50m… that ain’t worth it at all. This is why pacing yourself well is crucial in defining whether your race will be a good one or bad one.

But hey, you’re not to blame fully as the competitor beside you may decided to go out hard during the race and you simply got distracted. How is that fair? Sadly, that’s just now swimming works. Although we control our own swims, we can sometimes get distracted by the person beside us if they have a different race plan from us.

With that said, as long as we have a solid race plan, nothing will be able to distract us from sticking to it. Below are some tips which I’ve learnt over the years to ensure that you will NEVER AGAIN screw up your race plan, even if you have another person beside you who has a totally different one.

It’s actually pretty simple, all you have to do is to pay more attention to little details during your training, and everything will fall into place when competition comes. As the saying goes…


The tricky thing about swimming is that we’ll never know how fast or slow we’re going when we’re swimming. We’re unable to check the pace clock (unlike other sports) as we’re constantly putting our head in the pool. Therefore, pacing has to be based on feeling, and the better feel you have, the better you can pace. We can pace off someone else’s race plan sometimes, but ultimately, knowing your own race plan ensures that your swimming performances stay consistent.

Coach: “Eh why didn’t you swim well today?” 
Swimmer: “Because I have no water feel today coach…” 


Here are 2 simple tips to let you have a better feel for pace in the water:

1) Count your strokes during pace sets

What we constantly do at the National Training Squad is that we’re always counting strokes when doing 50m pace works. Our coaches will give us a set like 8×50 on 1:00, and the break down will be:

2 holding 31 seconds pace
2 holding 30 seconds pace
2 holding 29 seconds pace
2 holding 28 seconds pace 

The key will be to count your strokes for each block of 2, and try to hold the same stroke counts for each 2. For example, I hold:

30 strokes for the 1st 2 on 31 seconds pace
31 strokes for the 2nd 2 30 seconds pace
32 strokes for the 3rd 2 29 seconds pace
33 strokes for the last 2 28 seconds pace

So if I were to do a 1500m Freestyle race in competitions and the timing I am aiming for is a 15 min 30 seconds, I will have to hold a 31 second pace per 50m (31 seconds + 31 seconds = 1 min 02 seconds. 1 min 02 seconds x 15 = 15 min 30 seconds), which is about 30 strokes per 50 meters. So in a race, all I have to do is to ensure that I maintain my 30 strokes stroke length and I should roughly know that I’m on par for a 15 min 30 seconds pace.

Of course, we also have to factor in an increase in stroke rate in the last few hundred meters of a race due to fatigue, but that will be a separate blog post for another time.

2) Know the different kick patterns and when to apply them

Next step after establishing your stroke counts, you have to establish your kick counts. We all know that there are 3 different types of kick patterns:

i) 2 beat kick
ii) 4 beat kick
iii) 6 beat kick

And it goes in an order of difficulty too. The more you kick, the more sore you’re going to be. In a race, it’s about finding balance in your kicks to ensure that you do not fatigue too early in the race, and still have enough energy to max out your kicks in the final stages of the race, because that will determine whether you win or lose a race.

I shall use myself as an example again to give you a clearer explanation of the different types of kicks:

For a 30 strokes, 31 seconds pace – I use a 2 beat kick
For a 31 strokes, 30 second pace – I use a 4 beat kick
For a 32 strokes, 29 second pace – I use a light 6 beat kick
For a 33 strokes, 28 second pace – I use a heavier 6 beat kick

So it’s about connecting your kicks to your pulls, and finding a suitable pace to go for in the various races, whether it’s a 200m Freestyle, or 1500m Freestyle. Choose the kick patterns and in cooperate it into your swims, and you should have a better pacing during your race.

Things to note

The key message from this post would be to understand your own body well. You may not have the same kick patterns as I have, so you’ll have to find out what’s best suited for you and stick to it during your training sessions!


Just imagine your body as a race car – Your arms are the steering wheel, and your legs are the wheels. The better you tune it, the better it’s going to be during a race. And tuning it comes from finding the connection in your arms and legs together when doing your pace work, and knowing the various kick patterns and arms strokes required to achieve certain timings in your pace work.

Start paying attention to the little details in training like stroke count and kick patterns, and you’ll be able to establish your race paces better! Say goodbye to distractions and I hope you start swimming great races!!! 🙂


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This is why you should take every race seriously


Hello guys! I’m back again with issue which I would like to bring up. Basically, it’s about taking every competition – no matter how small it may be, or how fatigue you are that day, and race your heart out every race. When I say race your heart out I mean RACE UNTIL YOUR ARMS AND LEGS FEEL LIKE FALLING OFF, and make sure that you have nothing left in the tank after that race.

It took me about a year to understand this concept of racing hard no matter what the competition may be. I was initially skeptical towards this approach. Like come on – Why do I need to race hard in unimportant competitions when I can win the race with an easier time? I mean I’m not bragging about this, but it is true, I think athletes tend to ease off when they know that they can win the competition with ease. It’s kinda similar to social loafing, where you exert less effort to achieve that same target. But I would like to address this today about why we should all change this loafing mindset and start racing hard no matter what the competition is.

Photo Credit: Nicholas Wan

1. Every competition is a chance for you to realize your weaknesses

Going hard every race allows you to solidify your race plan when it comes to big competitions. It’s simple – every race gives you an opportunity to try out new race plans and techniques, so don’t waste those opportunities to just ‘race to win.’ Take it as a chance to try out the different things that you’ve learnt from training, keep the good things that you’ve learnt, and toss away the things that you thought was good but didn’t pan out well during your race.

Photo Credit: Nicholas Wan

2. Your weaknesses are AMPLIFIED during competitions

People are tempted to not go all out after a tough week of training when they are at their most fatigue stage. But if you learn to race hard, you’ll be able to pin point where your weaknesses lie during your race, especially when your body is at it’s most fatigue stage. That’s because the pain amplifies when you’re tired, so you know EXACTLY where your weaknesses are. For example, in a race, if your legs start to hurt like mad in the last few meters of your race, you know for sure that your weakness lies in your kick, and you’ll have to work more on it during the next phase of training.

3. It helps in fighting through greater pain barriers

Similar to what I’ve mentioned above, when weaknesses are amplified, pain is amplified as well. Racing hard on bad days allows you to push through greater pain barriers as compared to when you’re well rested and tapered. And if you can push through the pain barrier in a race which you are unrested, you’ll have no fear when it comes to bigger competitions, when you know that you’re more well rested and in shape.


4. Sometimes, your best times come unexpected

At times, you’ll still be able to swim best times even when you’re tired! For me, I’ve swum best times before when I’m unrested throughout my swimming career, and that gives me a huge confidence boost as I know that my times are going to be much better when I’m well rested and tapered. So just race your heart out, and see how the race pans out.


I hope my post inspires you to take every racing opportunity seriously, and race your heart out every race. Always remember that every race is a chance for you to better yourself, and it also trains you up both physically and mentally to prepare you better for the bigger competitions to come, so STOP LOAFING!!! 


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Why should school bell curve systems be removed

Things I’ve learnt at work which I’ll never learn in school


I’ve just started my internship recently and there have already been a few surprising observations that I’ve made over the course of 12 weeks with regards to it being different from school life.

I was initially expecting a pretty cold and boring office setting, whereby everyone will be focused on getting their own job done without really caring about whoever’s in the office. However, what really surprised me was the teamwork we had as a department. Everyone in my department live by a philosophy of honesty and trust – politics are put aside and we are not afraid to share knowledge to one another so that all of us can get our jobs done efficiently. Without further ado, here are things which I’ve learnt from work life which is different from school, which made me feel strongly against the current bell curve system that most school systems are currently having.


1) TEAMWORK is forgotten in school

In university, people are only focused solely on how they can climb their GPA scores up, to the point whereby they have forgotten that school is all about learning and sharing knowledge, and how we can help one another to progress as a unit. Ultimately, I would want to transit to the work force knowing that the knowledge that I gained from university can be applied to my job.

Unfortunately, teamwork is forgotten in school, and people are just focused on how they can be smarter than the person next to them. Because bell curve system mah, if I help you, you win me, then how am I going to get a good GPA?

Students are not to be blamed for having this mindset, as having good teamwork isn’t promoted in school. The system runs in a bell curve system, which promotes selfishness in students. Helping others might potentially mean bringing your own GPA score down, so why would you wanna help?

When we transit to work life, teamwork is actually the key to success in an organization. It isn’t so much about individual effort or recognition, or how high your GPA was in school. It’s about how you can use your knowledge to contribute to the progression of the organization. Being selfless is the most efficient way for the organization to move forward. Without teamwork, progression will be slowed down drastically.


Granted that you get group projects that promotes teamwork, however, once the project is done, we all kinda go our separate ways and start mugging endlessly for our final exams.



2) & That promotes brainless cramping of information

A common phenomenon observed a day before a final paper is that majority of students are busy cramping up all the notes of the different theories and formulas that they have learnt in class. Even before walking to the exam hall, people are still busy cramping as much information as they can. It’s not because they did not prepare before hand, it’s just that it’s pretty damn impossible to cramp 13 weeks of theories and formulas in one sitting. The hardest part is that you have to know the theories almost word for word or you will get penalized if the person next to you memorized the theories better than you did.

I have to be honest, I’m also one of those students who cramp as much information as I can before sitting into the exam hall, that’s because when I memorize lecture 2, I forget a bit of lecture 1, and when I memorize lecture 3, I forget a bit of lecture 2, so I have to keep going back and forth just to try to retain as much information as possible.

I’d like to use the analogy of gambling when it comes to exams. It’s like choosing the correct lectures to invest your brain memory in and hoping that those topics you studied for come out during exams. I personally feel that it’s impossible to memorize all 13 lectures in one sitting, so if you play your cards right, you will be able to spot the correct exam questions and get an A grade. If not, say hello to C. After all, it’s do or die right?

Well, there’s an alternate path which you can choose, which is to be the Jack of all trades, but master of none – meaning you try your best to cramp down all lectures, even if it may seem really hard. You will tend to forget a thing or 2 from each lecture but this may be a safer approach for those poker players that prefer not to go all in. You’ll be able to secure a B grade with this approach.

But saying that, brainlessly mugging for exams will NOT help you with transiting and applying the knowledge in work force, it just makes you score better than the person beside you.

Sorry if I digressed a little, but with all that said, school is about how well you memorize the theories and formulas, and you have to know the theories word for word or you’ll get penalized.

& even if you know your theories, if you didn’t memorize them better than your friend beside you, YOU WILL STILL GET PENALIZED! 


In work, if I were to forget about a theory which I learnt in school, I can always refer back to my notes or sources from online to refresh my memory a little. The key is about how you can apply those theories into real life cases.

I don’t have to promptly state “Ok so this is the exact theory that I’m using” word for word because nobody cares. All I have to do is to know which theory to use and apply it accordingly.

But in school, if we don’t use the exact words the theory states, we may be penalized a mark or two for inaccuracy. Because of the bell curve system, though you may know your theories, but if the person beside you memorized the theories better than you, you will get penalized.

So honestly, why must we have a bell curve system?

In Summary…

I personally feel that the bell curve system should be removed from universities. Getting good grades SHOULDN’T BE A COMPETITION.  Instead, it should be about having vast knowledge in your specific field by the end of your graduation, and how each and every student can unite and help one another on areas which they are weak in. Removing the bell curve system also removes the fear of jeopardizing your own grade if you help the person next to you.

This would also in turn promote teamwork in a school setting, which will be beneficial to students when they transit to the work force. Because in work life, teamwork is key to having success in an organization!!!

Thing to note… What if students cheat during exams? 

I stated that with the bell curve system removed, people wouldn’t have to worry about their grades being affected when they help a friend. However, does this mean that cheating in exams will occur because everyone is working as a unit now?

That would be a possible flaw, but I highly doubt it will happen. Most university papers are conducted in an essay format, with 8-10 essay questions, and each answer is about 1 to 1 and a half pages long, and given the amount of time we have to complete our exams (1 hr 45 mins to 2 hours) it is practically impossible to copy the essay of the student next to you. So it’s pretty damn hard to cheat during exams.


This blog post only applies to majority of the people that are in school. THIS POST IS NOT MEANT FOR ASPIRING DOCTORS, LAWYERS, OR ENGINEERS. Please disregard this blog post. if you fall under the any of the courses that I’ve mentioned. I don’t want any accidents to happen as these are majors that require you to memorize everything to perfection. Everything in these majors are so specific that a single mistake you make could cost you a life. So if you fall into these majors, keep studying hard! 😉 


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It’s been a tiring but fruitful week as I celebrated my 24th Birthday last week. So many great memories so it’s time I updated you all on what went down last week so read on if you’re interested! 🙂


So first off was when Volkswagen Singapore decided to sponsor me their Golf Cabriolet for the week, it’s the first time in my life I’ve driven a convertible sports car and MAN IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE. Well of course the first thing when I received the car was to test out how fast the car could go… (Eh, I guess every normal guy would do that). We all like speed, don’t we? The acceleration was pretty sick, and I really loved the car.

It was also nice that I could finally drive my parents in a sports car. It has always been one of my dreams to be able to drive them in a car like that. I remember having a conversation with my mum and dad before and telling them to survive until I get the chance to drive them in a sports car, and I’m glad that this opportunity came early even before I start my work life.


I know this car thing sounds a bit lame, but I think every kid would always want the best for their parents, and for me that was for them to see a successful me before they leave this earth. I know I may sound negative but I always fear that my parents may be gone one day, so I’m always constantly striving to be the best I can so that they can be happy as well. Because parents are usually selfless in nature, and it would mean the world to them when they see that their children are doing well.

Honestly, this car has created some great memories for my family and I. But like I said in many of my blog post, life isn’t always a smooth sail. Here’s something really really stupid and childish that happened at the parking lot when I first got my car.

It was after my afternoon session, and the sun was setting, and the temperature was perfect. I decided to drive top down, since I only have the convertible for 2 days. My family wanted to dine at one of the restaurants at the airport, so I drove top down there. I found a parking lot in front of me and went for the lot. As I wasn’t really familiar with my car, I took a longer time to reverse into my lot. That was when this driver (who was with his girlfriend) started to hold his honk and honked me.

it was legitimately a “BEEEEEEEP!!!!!!!!!!!” So obviously I got shocked and I turned around to look at him. So I raised my hands up, signalling to him on what the issue was. He drove up to me, and winded down his window.

“Yo, is there an issue?” I asked him.

“Yeah obviously there is, you take so long to park for f***?” He shouted.

“What the, can’t you just wait for 1 minute??” I was quite pissed at this point in time.

“Of course cannot la!!!” His girlfriend replied.

“Eh, do you have any idea how stupid you sound right now?” I was legitimately damn pissed at this point in time.

“F*** YOU!!!!!” He shouted.

“Yo if you have anything you’re unhappy about, get out of your car, we can always talk it out, if not right now, you just sound really stupid.” I was doing my best not to sink down to his level of stupidity.

“F*** YOU!!!!!!!!!!” And he sped off with his girlfriend.


This was one of the bad cases which I’ve experienced when driving the Cabriolet. I don’t know what made him so angry, but I’ll let you figure that out!

Overall, that case did piss me off quite a bit, but it became a lot better when I met my parents at the airport and we had sushi!!! 🙂


So Saturday came and M Social sponsored me a day stay in their Loft Gallery for the day. The rooms have a really classy concept to it. What surprised me was that the hotel actually features a 2 story room!!! So first level is like the chill level, and the second level is where the queen size bed is. So for people who are thinking of hosting a party here, it’s first floor party, and crash after the party on the second floor. 🙂


They also have an awesome pool with a gym at the back for those that want to workout. Really like the concept a lot 🙂


And came the final segment of the night – My mentor called a few close friends over and hosted my birthday party at his house. There were 2 cakes – one from my family and one from his. I might have gained a few pounds over the week! But hey, birthday only happens once a year, so when it’s time to indulge, INDULGE!!!! The 2 cakes were chocolate ice cream cake and OREO cheesecake. I love oreos, and I think everyone loves oreos too hahaha.

P.S. Sorry I didn’t manage to snap a photo of the cakes, was too busy indulging.


You can’t really see my mentor from that photo but here’s a closer shot of him. He’s someone that helps me behind the scenes whenever I get into shit. So in simple terms, every time I get into shit, I call him for advice and help HAHAHA. But he’s always willing to talk to me even when I call him during his family time.

I personally find it important to have a mentor in your life – Someone you can pour your deepest troubles to in times of need. Someone that doesn’t judge you no matter how ridiculous your situation may be. And someone that will stay by your side even when odds are stacked against you.

Parents are pretty similar to mentors, just that there are some things which you may be afraid to open up to your parents in fear that they may scold you; that’s when a mentor plays an important role into ensuring that things are still going well with you though you may seem to be ok on the outside.

So all in all, thanks for always listening to my troubles Yeoh!


My closest friends shared a boat together on Sunday to hang out and chill, which was really fun as we finally got time to gather and catch up with each other after soooooooo long.


My favorite crew – I think we click so well because all of us are pretty genuine people. We will always stand by each other through almost everything.

It’s really good to know that no matter what happens, we’ll always be there for each other. Even if we may be wrong at times, we will be wrong together. 🙂


On a side note, it was really nice to get Macallan on board with us on this board trip. First time drinking a Macallan and it was really good! But hey, I only drink during really special occasions, so swimmers, please don’t use that as an excuse to drink!


And that concludes my birthday week. Thank you everyone for your birthday wishes. I haven’t exactly replied all of you yet, but I will, soon, just give me time yeah. 🙂

Also, if you think that I’m living the “high life”, I actually only do this once a year at most. My daily life includes waking up at 4:45am for training, followed by work, followed by another session of training, then I’ll be home for dinner. It’s a pretty regimental life so I don’t usually have time for R&R like these, so this is one of the few days I get to enjoy myself!

If you’re wondering how much it is to book a Yacht, it’s about $100 per pax, so it beats going to a club for drinks, as you all can actually chill and really catch up with your friends after not seeing them for a long time.

Hope this post gives you an update on how my birthday week went! And to those of you who haven’t had their birthday celebrations, hope this gives you an idea on how to celebrate your upcoming birthday. 🙂


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Here’s to the aspiring Olympians that didn’t make it

This post goes out to all the athletes who fall under the same category as me – the ones who spent countless hours working their hearts out to qualify for the Olympic Games, but ended up missing the games.

You guys have also dedicated your lives for the sport, and did your very best to be an Olympian, so please do not see any less of yourselves. Keep your head up and DON’T GIVE UP!!! Because Tokyo 2020 is just around the corner. 🙂

Having made the B qualification mark for the Olympics, I ended up failing to qualify for the Olympic Games due to the 900 swimmer limit that the IOC has, and I’m sure that many of you swimmers faced the same issue as well.

I’m honestly pretty sad that I’ve failed to make it to the 2016 Olympics, but there is no excuse for not making the Olympics besides not being better than I wanted myself to be.

I actually contemplated on retirement a little – I missed the most prestigious competition that any swimmer can ever aim for, and in 4 years time, I may be too old for Tokyo.

However, I managed to shrug those negative thoughts away from me, which is why I want to share this post with you today. If you are having the same thoughts, please read on and don’t give up just yet.

Watching this years Olympics really reignited the burning fire I had inside of me, and I’m glad to say that right now I’m back up on my feet and training hard towards the next Olympic Games!

In particular, 2 swimmers have inspired me and kept this dream alive – Anthony Ervin and Michael Phelps.

anthony ervin.jpg

In the Men’s 50m Freestyle, the favorites going in were Florent Manaudou and Nathan Adrian. Ervin retired from the sport for about 8 years before his passion for the sport came back again, and had some pretty bad swims which lead to many doubters. I remember watching the race and my friend and I wanted Ervin to win, because we knew his story, and he’s been through a lot of tough times – from attempting suicide from overdosing tranquilizers to riding at dangerously high speeds on motorcycles when high on cocaine. Realizing he failed to kill himself, he felt like God had reborn-ed him, in a way. Age was also a factor when it came to this competition – Most swimmers in the finals were at their mid 20s while Ervin was 35, so he was definitely not the favorite coming into this race.

Ervin ended up winning the race with a 21.40 seconds, just 0.01s ahead of the favorite Florent Manadou. And you can roughly picture how much my friend and I were screaming with excitement seeing a “1” sign beside Anthony Ervin’s name.

michael phelps.jpg

“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”

I always thought that Phelps was living the life with 22 Olympic Medal tally (28 after this year’s Olympics). Many of us didn’t know that he almost ended his life! He had no self-esteem and self worth which almost made him end his life. But he bounced back to win another 5 Gold medals and 1 Silver medal in this Olympic Games. How awesome is that?

Honestly, who would have thought both of them would return to the sport at this age in their career? They both had something in common – the burning passion and drive for swimming, and the unfinished goals which they want to achieve in the sport. If either of them had retired earlier, we wouldn’t have experienced such an amazing feat at this Olympic Games.

For them to overcome such great obstacles just proves that nothing can stop you from achieving your goals – all you have to do is to believe in yourself. If they overcame the greatest obstacles in their lives, then we can too!

Overall, their experiences have made me believe that as long as we set our mind up towards our goal and chase them wholeheartedly, age is merely just a number. There’s really nothing that can stop us from achieving our goals, except the person in the mirror. So cut the negativity, and start believing!


I’ve got my eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and I’ve already started training for it. There’s so much more motivation now as I know that deep down, my Olympic dream is still alive.

Think about it, 4 more years of hard training is merely 5% of my entire life time (that’s if I survive up to 80, of course), so it will definitely pay off when I look back at my swimming career, knowing that I’ve made it to the biggest milestone of swimming.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the constant support through my swimming journey. Those really encouraging messages you’ve sent, knowing that I’m upset that I failed to make the Olympics this time around; that really spurred me on to continue pursuing my dreams. I may not have the time to reply all each and everyone of you, but please know that I’ve seen all of them and I’m really grateful for all your unwavering support! I sincerely hope that you too will be able to achieve what you set yourself out for one day, and if you do, let me know as well. 🙂

In 4 years time, I will only be 28 years old, which is 3 years younger than Phelps’s current age and 7 years younger than Ervin’s current age, so there is really no excuse for me to retire just yet.

For those who are aspiring athletes who didn’t make it to Rio this time around, do continue your quest for the Olympic dream and don’t give up! The dream is never over unless we stop trying.

And if you ever think of giving up, just remember why you started your sporting career in the first place.

All in all, I hope this post inspires the aspiring Olympians to not give up and continue chasing that Olympic dream with me. We’re in this together, so onward Tokyo 2020!

Hopefully when I look back at this post at year 2020, I can gladly say that I’ve made it. 🙂


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This is how news should be reported

I got inspired to write this post today when my mum came across an Instagram post, which I believe was from a Hong Kong reporter, who’s currently also writing about the Rio Olympic Games on his Instagram page. Without further ado, this is his post:


I believe that many of you are like me, and you’re not sure what he’s saying. My mum translated the article for me and I strongly feel that this is an article we all can learn from, so here’s the translation: 

(Inspired by Ye Shi Wen to write this)

There are many respectable heroes in the battle field, especially when races are running and medals are continuously won. but do you know that there is a lot to learn besides winning and losing?

For these past few days, I’ve been following the performances of the Hong Kong team, China team, and even some of the world’s greatest swimmers. However, nothing beats the experience I had just awhile ago.  

4 years ago, Ye shi wen was a double Olympic champion in the 2012 London Olympic Games with the World Record in the 400m Individual Medley and Olympic Record in the 200m Individual Medley. But as we all know, good things don’t last. There were some complications with her which lead to a decline in her times. The former champion experienced a plateau in her performance while she saw everyone overtaking her. If you’re a swimmer yourself, I’m sure that you’ll be able to feel the pain that she’s feeling. I’m not 100% certain about this, but I’m sure that many of you would have given up if you were facing the same problem as her. But she fought on, and earn her spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

Sadly, things didn’t go her way in the 2016 Rio Olympics, she tried her best, only to finish 17 seconds off her personal best time, which placed her 27th in her 400m Individual Medley. 

Next up was her 200m Individual Medley. I was lucky to be able to grab her for an interview after her 200m Individual Medley race yesterday after she placed 4th overall after her semi final swim, and she was really friendly when I interviewed her. She said that she physically and mentally did the best preparation she could, and placing 4th going into the final really boosted her overall morale after her upset in the 400m Individual Medley swim. She mentioned that there were many strong competitors in the field. Everyone is hungry for a medal, which makes it a really competitive field, so she will just do her best. I wished her luck and we concluded the interview. 

I watched her race from the mixed zone the following day, rooting for her to win a medal. However, she had a really slow start in the Butterfly, and at that point in time, I knew the race was over. I saw the scoreboard and her time was 4 seconds slower than her semi final time, and I was pretty shocked. 

I waited for her at the media zone, hoping that she will accept another interview with me. I wasn’t very hopeful as I’ve observed Ning Zetao and Sun Yang ignoring an interview with the media after their bad races. But to my surprise, she walked up to me with calmness and composure. She told me that her goggles filled up with water when she dived into race. At that point in time I wanted to scream my lungs out as I was really sad for her. But Ye Shi Wen said that it’s her fault, and she bears full responsibility for it and completed the race anyway. 

Swimming is such a brutal sport – The many hours spent training your heart out, overcoming various obstacles just for that very moment, to only end up with a bad race. That has really left me speechless. 

It’s always nice to celebrate when you win, but can you accept failure when you lose? She was really gracious with her defeat, and I have my utmost respect for her.

Even though you are no longer the world champion, but in my heart, you are already a champion.

Forgive me for my bad writing, even though you may not understand this, but I do, and I hope you do too.

Kudos to you Dickson Yu, your article has indeed inspired me as well. I think we can all learn from Dickson’s character, and the way he writes. He must have probably huddled with all other reporters in hope to churn out a good report as well; and he certainly did. He was able to turn a negative experience into a positive article, and that to me is what differentiates a successful reporter from a mediocre one. 



I think we should all be focusing on the positives – Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen just made SINGAPORE HISTORY by making Semi Finals at the Olympic Games, and this is already huge progress for Singapore Swimming. No male swimmer has ever made it to the Semi Finals at the Olympic Games, and now we have TWO swimmers who achieved that feat, so there is already a lot to celebrate!!!

Congratulations guys! Thanks for flying our flag high at the international stage, we are all already proud of you both. 

Another point I would like to address – Athletes who are visibly upset may find it hard to consolidate their thoughts for an interview, which is why they prefer not to be interviewed immediately after an upsetting race, as they need some time to cool down before being in the right shape of mind again.

Imagine training countless hours just for that race, only to know that you’ve messed it up the most important race of your life by just a bit, and if you didn’t mess up, you would have qualified for the finals. How awful is that feeling?

Dickson also mentioned that successful swimmers like Ning Zetao and Sun Yang also rejected their interview request after their bad races, so I guess even the most successful swimmers find it hard to handle a bad race as well.

Come on, we’re all human after all, and we have emotions as well. 

It’s really commendable that Dickson understands how an athlete feels after a bad race, which is why he didn’t expect Ye Shi Wen to be so calm and composed after her race, because he was expecting her to reject his interview too. 

His focus was not to blame Ye Shi Wen if she didn’t want an interview with him after her 200m Individual Medley race, and he just wanted the best for her.

He must have followed athletes for a very long time to understand the pain and sadness an athlete may potentially feel after a bad race, which is why he was even surprised that Ye Shi Wen accepted the interview graciously. 

Gosh, mad props to you Dickson. 


As the Olympics are not over, I’m sure that we can learn from Dickson’s positive attitude together and unite as one Team Singapore and maintain our positive spirit for the remaining days of the Olympic Games. Come on guys, it happens once every 4 years, so there’s no time to be negative about it. 

At times like these, these athletes need our support the most, so the last thing we need now is negative publicity for them.

Lets all unite as ONE TEAM SINGAPORE, and cheer on the remaining swimming race that Singapore has, which is the 100m Butterfly for Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen today at 1:16am. 



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Why having live telecast of the Olympics matter to us


Joseph Schooling - Copy.jpg

Photo Credit: Peter Soon

August 8, 2015 – Joseph Schooling just made history by winning Singapore’s first ever podium finish at the World Swimming Championships.

I clearly remembered how happy everyone was when we saw his name appearing on the scoreboard, and to top it off, it happened a day before SG50. Each and every Singaporean felt a sense of national pride as they experienced history together as Joseph was collecting his World Championships medal, and it was definitely a heart-warming moment for all of us.

I recalled the amount of anxiety we all had before Joseph’s race. As none of us qualified for the finals, Joseph was our only hope to fly our flag high during the World Championships. When the commentator called his name, we all screamed our lungs out as though we were the ones who were swimming the race, and you could see Joseph turning over to acknowledge our cheering efforts. Trust me, we were all pretty damn nervous for him as the level of competition in the World Championships are equivalent to the Olympics, and many of the big guns were in the same 100m Butterfly race.

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The race started and Joseph headed into the first 50m with a leading time of 23.53 seconds. At this point in time, there was even more adrenaline pumping through our veins as we knew that history was about to be made, all he needed to do was to just hang on for another 50m, and that would give him a Gold medal. Our cheers started getting louder as the race progressed as we really wanted him to hang on. The feeling was just surreal, seeing Singapore in the lead for the first time at a world stage.

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At the last 25m of the race, Chad Le Clos (South Africa) and Laslo Cseh (Hungary) started inching up on him, and at that point in time, the whole stadium became so loud due to the excitement, and you couldn’t even hear yourself when you were screaming. We couldn’t even tell who was leading at the last 10m of the race as everyone was just so bunched up together at the final moments of the race. I remember just screaming and shouting my heart out to support Joseph and hope that he brings home a medal for us.


The race was over, and when we looked up, we saw a Singapore flag lighting up on Lane 1 on the live television screen. The feeling of excitement was so indescribable, knowing that we were able to experience history live as Joseph brought back home a medal for Singapore on a world stage. There was a surge of excitement, happiness, and relief at the same time, knowing that Singapore history was made, and we were all able to experience it together. It was such a memorable moment for each and every one of us and I’m sure that people at home felt the same feeling when they managed to catch Joseph’s race live on television.

Failing to qualify for the Olympics this year, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to watch Joseph swim live at the Rio Olympic pool. However, I would love to see history being made again when I watch him swim from home. It’s different when you’re watching repeated telecast, because you already know that the outcome is going to be. I don’t want to know the results beforehand before being able to watch him swim. Because that takes away the excitement factor in sport, the feeling of uncertainty during his race, whether he’ll be able to hold on and bring home the gold medal.

I like to live in the moment, and feel the huge surge of adrenaline rush again when I watch him race his 100m Butterfly, and celebrate together with him when history is made again. I’m pretty sure that everyone feels the same way as well.

Broadcasting the Olympic Games will definitely unite all Singaporeans together through sport and promote an active lifestyle in Singapore in the long run, as people are going to remember the great moments from the Olympic Games, reminisce, and talk about it in the many years to come.

Having repeated telecast is like someone spoiling a good movie for you by telling you how the movie is going to end, and it is definitely not a pleasant feeling as your whole movie experience will be spoilt, knowing how the movie will pan out.

However, I’m sure that with the advancement of technology, there will potentially be different online streams that broadcasts the Rio Olympics live. So if we really want to, we should still be able to watch the Olympics live. If there’s a will, there will be a way. 🙂

Coming from a swimmer’s perspective, it definitely feels better racing knowing that you have your country behind you all the way during your race. Because besides achieving your own goals, you’ll be doing it for the country as well.

So let’s all unite, and get behind our athletes as they do their best in the Olympics! I’m sure that it will spur them on to greater performances.

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“This is my home, where I grew up and where everything started. My friends and family are going to be there and I’m really excited to be racing in a home atmosphere for once.” An excerpt from Joseph Schoolings interview during the 2015 SEA Games.

All the best to you in your quest for the Olympics Joseph! The country is behind you, do us proud!

And to all the other athletes competing in Olympics, we’re all behind you! 


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Sorry mum and dad, I didn’t make it to the Olympics

My reflection on failing to make the Olympics

AUG Swimming Day3 Finals - 2016-07-14_Andy Chua -DSC_4436.jpg

… Aaaaaaaaand it’s official, I have failed to make it to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. I can honestly say that I am indeed disappointed having failed to qualify for the most prestigious event of swimming, but hey, the worst has already happen, so everything will just get better from here!

Swimming’s a pretty brutal sport – even if you’ve hit the qualifying time for the Rio Olympics, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get to go to the Olympics. For those that are unsure, let me explain it to you.

So according to FINA rules, they have set a maximum limit of swimmers at 900, meaning that once the 900 swimmer quota is met, the rest of the swimmers will not stand a chance to swim in the Rio Olympics. On paper, 900 swimmers may seem like a lot, but in reality, it is actually really really little, and I’ll break it down for you.

There are a total of 4 different pathways to qualify for the Olympics, prioritized in this order:

  1. Athletes who have made the A Qualification time for the Olympics and also the Top 2 in their respective countries
  2. Athletes who have qualified in the Top 16 places in relays
  3. To promote universality, countries without any qualified athletes may enter a maximum of 2 athletes – 1 male 1 female, also known as wild cards
  4. Athletes who have made the B Qualification time for the Olympics

As you can see, most of us swimmers fall into the 4. category, whereby we made the B qualification times for the Olympics. Back in 2008 they didn’t have a max limit of 900 swimmers, which means any athlete which hits the B qualification time would be part of the Olympics. But my guess is that due to swimming’s competitive nature, many swimmers in the world made the B qualification time, which is why they limit the swimmers to 900 swimmers only, which also means that qualifying for the Olympics just became waaaaaaaaaay harder.

Excuse my math, but if I were to calculate it really vaguely, power houses like USA, Japan, Australia, France, etc would have about 26 male and female athletes who have met the A qualifying times for the Olympics, so that’s about a 4-500 spots gone. Relays would add up to roughly another 50-100 spots. For universality/wild cards spots, there are 196 countries in the world, so if you were to take out the powerhouses, there would be about 150 countries left who will be aiming for universality/wild card spots, which takes up to another 300 spots with 1 male and 1 female taking each spot. After deducting swimmers who have met one of the first 3 pathways to the Olympics, swimmers who made the B qualification marks will be left with about… 50 spots.

Since there are 26 events in both male and female events, only the top B qualifier would qualify for the Olympics, which makes it really really tough. So unfortunately, all of us were not the top B qualifier based on rankings of B qualifiers.

Pretty brutal, ain’t it?

All the years of training you put into qualifying for the Olympics all seem like a waste, and all you can do is to go back to training another 4 years and hopefully being able to qualify for the next Olympics with the A Qualifying time.

Thoughts of unfairness have crossed my mind quite a bit. Like why do they have the stupid 900 limit rule? Why wasn’t I born earlier so that I would have made the 2008 Olympics?

But you know what, I came to realize that thoughts like these are irrelevant. Honestly, what’s the point of brooding over something that I can’t change the outcome on? I should just move on, and learn to control what I can control in life, which is to train harder to make the A qualifying time in the next Olympics, and that is exactly what I’m doing right now.

You know, I think the biggest relief I had was that before I left for Florida for my training camp, I had a heart to heart talk with my parents, and they said that they were already really proud of what I achieved in my swimming career, regardless of whether I make it to the Olympics or not, and that just gave me a sense of inner peace deep down in my heart.

I’ve always wanted to do my parents proud, and one of my dream was to be able to stand on the podium in a major competition and see the smile on my parent’s faces in the spectator stands when I collect my medal. I was able to do it during SEA Games last year, and best part was that it was done in home soil, which made everything even sweeter.

So for them to assure me with that, really make me change my whole perception of swimming, and that shifted my focus onto swimming because I love swimming, without having the emotional stress which I constantly placed on myself in the past.

Thanks for still believing in me though I’ve failed to make the Olympics this time around, Mum and Dad. But there’s always the next one 🙂

P.S. So for parents, know that we swimmers are really stressful even when we don’t show it, so a simple gesture of letting your kids know that you’re proud of them can go a long way 😉

My swimming career has never been a smooth sail as well, but I’m thankful because failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics is merely just a minor setback for me. It doesn’t take much to move on and keep my mind focused on the next upcoming competition. Besides, I enjoy the adrenaline rush of every competition; nothing beats the chills you get when you get a huge surge of adrenaline rush before every race. And constantly beating my personal best times just further proves that my hard work has paid off.

AUG Swimming Day3 Finals - 2016-07-14_Andy Chua -DSC_4344.jpg

So with that said, what’s next for me? Well, in all honestly, my passion for swimming has grown a lot stronger through the years, and if you’ve read my article on TODAY just last week, I ain’t going anywhere away from the pool just yet! I’m in the best shape of my life and I’ve swam personal best times untapered, so things will only get better from here.

For now, I’m just going to enjoy swimming because I’m in love with this sport, and I’m sure that things will play out well naturally.

I have great mentors, coaches and teammates who are supporting me all the way so I’m really excited towards my next phase of training, a minor setback won’t stop me from working hard. To those who still have strong faith in me after this setback, here’s a BIG THANK YOU to you. You know who you are, and I am eternally grateful. 🙂

Overall, I feel that the biggest takeaway I get from swimming is not so much about the medals that I’ve won, or the achievements that I’ve had. What’s most important is about the relationships that I’ve made and the people that I’ve inspired over the years of my swimming career by overcoming my setbacks.

Swimming has strengthen my mental state as an individual through the constant setbacks being thrown at me and how I managed to overcome each and everyone of them, and that is something you can’t learn in school.

AUG Swimming Day3 Finals - 2016-07-14_Andy Chua -DSC_4440

Medals will rust, but relationships forged in the swimming scene will last a lifetime. Also, seeing how much I’ve inspired people to pursue what they’re passionate in after reading about my swimming career experiences also made me realize that winning isn’t always everything, there are many other reasons to be happy when you’re doing what you love.

Yes, swimming is brutal indeed, a mistake you make in your race would mean costing you that qualification mark or the medal you desire. But ultimately, if you focus on the journey and love the sport as a whole, you’ll have an unforgettable journey filled with wonderful memories to be remembered after you retire.


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Why studies can wait but sports can’t

I got inspired to write this post today because I’m really really sad that a few of my close friends (who are really talented swimmers) are planning to stop swimming because of school commitments. I do agree that school can get really stressful at times, but there’s always a way to manage school and swimming at the same time.


I’ve had the same experience back the days when I was still in the Singapore Sports School. We could either choose to do the diploma course which was offered in school and continue swimming, or take the O level route, quit the sport, and move on to Junior College. I chose the diploma route (which only 20% of the students chose), and continued swimming. So you can imagine how sad I was when 80% of my closest batch mates left the school and moved on with their lives in JC while I was still stuck in school.

At that point in time I deeply regretted my decision to stay on and continue swimming, because it felt like everyone was already moving on to a new phase in their lives, while I was still stuck in square one. I initially wanted to quit swimming and join my friends in JC, but I couldn’t do much because I didn’t have an O level certificate, so even if I wanted to, I just couldn’t.


Knowing that I didn’t have a choice, I continued swimming and I gotta be honest, the first few months were really hard. It kinda just felt empty and it wasn’t really a pleasant feeling when you see your friends posting about how excited they are about starting a new life in Junior College while you are still stuck in the same school. I stayed in boarding school so all that were left were empty dorm spaces which used to be my batch mates’ rooms.

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However, in life, I believe that everything is about adaptation. I soon started to make new friends in school, and life got a lot better afterwards. I found a new clique of friends which shared the same goal as me. They were all driven by passion in their various sports, and we all had the same goal of excelling in sport.

So with these bunch of equally motivated friends, I found my passion to swim again, and the thought of my old friends leaving didn’t bother as much as it did before.

I continued this mindset even up to this date, even when I’m in University. I’m currently taking 5 years to complete a 4 year course, due to under-loading modules so that I can manage both swimming and studies at the same time. I’ll definitely be sad when I see my friends throwing their graduation hats when I still have one more year left in school. However, when I grow old and look back at my life, I will be happy that I’ve achieved the different milestones in my swimming career which I have set myself out to achieve.

The reason why I’m sharing my story today is because I want to let you know that if you love sports as much as I do, and you have some goals which you want to achieve in this sport, DON’T EVER, EVER GIVE UP ON THEM UNTIL YOU ACHIEVE THEM. Don’t be afraid that your friends may graduate earlier than you, or that you’ll be missing out on the fun memories that your batch mates create while you were busy training hard for an important competition. Because you have to understand that as a sportsman, these are sacrifices which you have to make in order to reach your goals. Just know that when you stand up on the podium with the gold medal around your neck, you’ll know that all that sacrifice was well worth it.

At the end of the day, just remember that no matter what happens, studies can wait, but sports can’t. You can still study when you’re 30, but you have already passed your peak age of sporting performance when you choose to do sports after you’re done studying. At that point in time, it will be too late to turn back to sport, and you’ll live life with “I could have achieved this in my sport, but I didn’t because I chose to study.” That amount of regret is just not worth it.

So which feels better? “I could have…” or “I finally did it!” The answers pretty obvious.

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Looking back at my life now, the memories that I’ve created and the goals which I wanted to achieve in this sport are more or less achieved, so I’m glad that I chose to keep the faith and continue training hard. When I grow older and look back at my life, I can proudly say I did it!

Even though I’m graduating a year later than my batch mates, but come on, I’m going to be living for 70+ 80 years in my life, 1 year is merely 1%+ of my life span, that, I can afford to sacrifice. 🙂

I sincerely hope this blog post can inspire you to continue your path in sport, because once you made the decision to leave the sport, there will be no turning back from there.


P.S. To those who are thinking of retirement, every time the word ‘retirement’ comes across your mind, remember the amount of years you invested for the sport, and how hard it took you to get to where you are today. Don’t give up just yet, you’re almost there 😉


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How to get over a bad race


There’s always countless amounts of doubts going through every swimmer’s head after a bad race:

“Is this the end of my career?” 

“Should I quit now?” 

“I’ve worked so hard but the results didn’t seem to tally, so why should I even work hard in the first place?” 


So the question is, do you quit? 

The simple answer is NO. First, you must understand that it’s normal to have these negative thoughts running through your head after a bad race, but I want you to forget about those negative thoughts and keep believing that the great race will come one day.

If you haven’t achieved what you set yourself out to achieve in your career, then it’s not time to quit. 

The life span of sport is brutal, it does not wait for you to be ready, and once you past your prime age, it’s over for you even if you want to make a come back. Seize the opportunity when you can, because it’s a privilege for you to be given the opportunity to try.

My dad always reminds me to appreciate the opportunity that I’m given to swim. He told me that when he was my age, he wasn’t even given an opportunity to take on the sporting career.

In the past, sport wasn’t that well promoted as compared to now. It was a luxury to even engage in sporting activities on a daily basis. And comparing to my dad really made me appreciate the opportunity that I am given now.

The point that I’m trying to bring across here is that you should NEVER EVER waste a great opportunity given to you. Instead, appreciate that you’re given the opportunity to race and make full use of it.

Before thinking about giving up, think about how lucky you are to be given this opportunity to race.


But what if I try, but the “great race” never comes? 

There are 2 ways you can look back at your career:

“I have gave everything I had in the pool, and I got no regrets.”

“If only I continued swimming, I would have known my full potential.”

So which one will you choose? The answer’s pretty obvious.

I’m not saying that everyone will find their “great race” in their career, but isn’t that the beauty of sport? The nerves and adrenaline rush you get from each race, not knowing what to expect. The pain from the rush of lactate you have to endure after every race. All these are great experiences you will encounter, even without a good race.

Always remember, you’d rather live your life knowing that you tried your best and failed, than to look back at your life in regret knowing that you once had the opportunity to try, but you chose to give up. Because that, my friend, is going to haunt you for life.

Even if that great race never comes, you’ll be equipped with great life lessons which will get you ready for the work life next time.


Swimming will teach you that in life, even though things will not always go the way you want to, you just have press on and believe in the process. Because sport does not last a lifetime, but the character traits that you’ll learn from it, will last you a lifetime.

Ultimately, if you can learn from every bad experience and take it positively, you are already a winner. 🙂

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