The sad truth about being an athlete

Choosing the path of an athlete is like diving into a sea of uncertainty.

An average swimmer in Singapore spends about 5 hours training in the pool daily, investing 5 hours a day training our heart out for a major competition for the year, which includes competitions like the SEA Games, Asian Games, and Olympic Games.

In order to qualify and participate in these major games, a swimmer must first go through a qualifying meet, which is usually about 5 months before the major competition. To qualify for these major games, a swimmer must first fulfill the following criteria: To be placed top 2 in Singapore, and to hit certain qualifying times based on benchmarks set by SEA Games, Asian Games, and Olympic Games standards.

For example, to qualify for the SEA Games, a swimmer must hit the 3rd position time from the previous edition of the SEA Games, and finish Top 2 places in Singapore.

Sounds pretty straightforward, so what’s the catch here?

According to the 2016 statistics, there were about 1,500 swimmers who took part in the qualifying meet, and an average SEA Games swimming team comprises of 30 swimmers, which means only 2% of swimmers actually make it to the team.

That’s where the sad part comes. What happens to the rest of the 98%?

A swimming race usually takes about 5 minutes to complete at the very most, and your fate is dependent on that 5 minutes of racing. The 5 hours of hard work every single day all boils down to that very 5 minutes of race time.

Imagine standing behind the starting blocks, and as you look across the other lanes, you see 7 other people in the final with you, and all of them have also worked equally hard and are equally as determined to make the team as you.

That’s when a few questions will run through your head…

Who’s going to win the race? 
Am I well prepared enough?
Am I going to swim well?
Do I trust myself enough to win the race?

Like I’ve mentioned above, choosing the path of swimming is like diving into a sea of uncertainty. Knowing that everyone is fighting for the same thing, with only 2 spots available for you to qualify.

Truth is, the ones that don’t qualify get left behind.

The brutal and selfish thing about swimming is that you either make it, or you don’t; there is no in between.  Imagine investing 5 hours a day training your heart out at the pool for that 5 minutes of racing, and all it leads to is nothing. Sometimes, you can end up losing a race by a mere 0.01 seconds, and that could be the difference between making the SEA Games team, or not making the team at all. All your hopes and dreams over the months of hard work crushed in the span of 5 minutes, that is brutal.

Losing something you invested so much in can be really painful, and losing a race by just a fingernail would hurt you so much that you’ll end up in a really sad emotional state. Athletes have the tendency to blame themselves for losing, and blame themselves for not working harder than they have already worked. But over the years of my swimming career, I’ve learnt that there are so many factors that can lead to the result of the race, and sometimes, it isn’t right to blame ourselves for a bad race. I personally feel that what matters most is that if we cross our heart and know that we’ve did the best that we’ve possibly could for the race, we have the right to not blame ourselves for the outcome and move on from it. 

I’m not saying that losing won’t hurt, because it does hurt, and sometimes it will hurt for a long time. With so much time invested into training, not only did you sacrifice loads of sleep time, you’ll also end up far behind your school work as the hours you spent training were the hours that your classmates were busy doing work. So if you don’t make the team, will the hours invested be worth it?

To add on to the pain, major competitions will usually be aired on television, so on one hand you’ll be supporting your fellow teammates through your television at home, but on the other, you’ll imagine the life on the other side. The “that could have been me” feeling will definitely come out somehow or other, and the lost of the race by a fingernail will haunt you for sure because you’ll keep replaying that lost race in your mind, and it will not be a pleasant feeling. Some may take it as motivation to strive harder for the following year, but for some others, it may be their breaking point.

So if swimming is so painful, what’s in it for us?

Even with a 5 hour investment does not guarantee you a spot to represent Singapore at a major competition. However, sport will teach you to embrace the feeling of uncertainty. Not everyone will end up being a winner in sport at the end of the day, but each and every athlete will learn the hardships that sport brings. We’ll learn that in life, even if things don’t go your way, life still goes on normally, and of course, we wouldn’t die after a setback. In fact, we’ll learn to be accustomed to setbacks and that makes us much stronger individuals than before.

Ultimately, choosing the life of an athlete may potentially be a painful one, but it teaches us to embrace uncertainty, and to take a leap of faith into following our dreams and to chase what we love. At the end of the road if you missed the opportunity to represent the country, you’ll still be thankful to have chosen this path, as the path of sports will definitely make you a stronger individual. Through the good and the bad times, it’ll strengthen you both physiologically and psychologically which will benefit you in the future stages of your life, and that is what books will never be able to teach.

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One shot left.

I used to think that I was going to swim for a lifetime, because I was different from the rest. 
I used to think that if I failed for a SEA Games, there would be the next one to fall back onto, and if I failed in the next, there would always be the next.
I used to think that age wouldn’t catch up on me, because being a late bloomer, I would have a longer swimming career ahead of me. 


But as I approach 2018, the next few series of competitions may very much be my last ones. No more “next ones”, as age is finally catching up with me. It’s scary how such a big chapter of my life is about to close, with nothing much I can really do but to enjoy the final chapter I have left before moving on from what I love doing most.


With the little time I have left in the sport, I’m definitely more determined to achieve my final goal that I have in swimming, which is to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


“In life, you only have one shot, so make it count.” 


What I’ve learnt from my coaches is that you only have one shot in life, and there is no turning back the clock. That leaves us with 2 options – to give up, or make full use of every single moment in our life and work towards our goal.


Every athlete goes through a huge amount of stress because of the uncertainty of performance during competitions. You can have the best season of training leading up to a major competition, but a simple slip of your race plan would mean doing badly for your race. 3-4 months of hard work in the pool resulting in a bad race, how brutal is that?


I used to not be afraid of failing during competitions, because I knew that even if I failed, I’d have another competition to fall back onto. But knowing that the next few competitions will very much be my last, I can foresee that the fear of failing will definitely be stronger, but I’m glad that I’ve learnt to manage my stress accordingly, and just enjoy every moment of swimming.



Today’s not a good day, I’ll start tomorrow instead.” 


For me, I’m going to stop giving excuses for myself, and stop taking the easy way out in 2018. There will be days that I’ll feel like crap in the pool, but it’s during these days that I’ll gain the most out of my training sessions. Even if I’ll be swimming slower pace times, I’ll learn to overcome that adversity and look for key areas to improve on that bad training session, and turn it into a good one.


“If you give in today, what makes you think you won’t give in tomorrow if you don’t feel great again?”


Bad days will always be there, and it’s how we deal with those bad days and make full use out of it. Just think about it, whether you’re having a good or bad day, you’ll still be training in the pool, so why not make full use of your time in the pool instead of giving up? Like I’ve mentioned, you only have one shot in this life, so you can choose either to give up, or turn that negative session into a decent one.


Don’t start tomorrow, because with that mindset, you increase your risk of never starting at all. Start working hard today, even if today may not seem like the “right” day to start working towards your goals. Remember that starting on a bad day is far better than not starting as well. So as long as you start working today, you’ll be one step closer to your goal.

For me personally, I always fell short in making it into the Olympics. In hope to qualify for the 2012 Olympics 5 years ago, I was really unfit due to the commitments of NS, and I had to bid farewell my hopes of qualifying. Then came 2016, where I was at the fittest stage of my career. I made the “B” qualifying time for the Olympic cut, but due to change in selection criteria (article here) for the Olympics, I had to once again bid farewell to my Olympic dream. I would have really want to blame the selection criteria for me not qualifying for the Olympics, but everyone is facing the same issue, so the best solution would be to work harder and aim to do better for the next qualification period. After all, if we can’t change the circumstances, the best thing would be to change ourselves.

In 2018, I am committed to make every training session count, and ensure that nothing distracts me from my 2020 goal. I’ll give no excuses leading up to the qualification, and swim my heart out when the time comes. I have come to the final lap of my swimming career, and I only have one shot left, so I’m going to make every moment count.


If you’re reading this, I want you to make 2018 count for you as well. We’ll never know what the future holds. But as long as we try our best, we’ll live life with no regrets. 


I’m determined to close with an unforgettable life chapter, a chapter which I can look back and say that I’ve did everything to the best of my ability to try to qualify for the Olympics.


The clock is ticking for me, and I’m sure that it is for you too, so let’s make this 2018 a great one. 🙂
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To the unsung heroes of SEA Games

Everyone usually know who the winners are in SEA Games as they’re often glorified by the media. But behind the glamour and glory, lies the athletes who did their best, but fell short of delivering the medals. These are the athletes who have put in the same amount of work and effort into their preparation for the games, but often get out-shadowed by the ones that won, which inspired me to write this today.

I’ve been there before, feeling insignificant when others hang their medals around their neck while I went home empty handed, not once, but twice. It kinda felt like I spent my whole season working my heart off just to reap 0 rewards at the end of the day, so it left me a feeling of emptiness, like everything I worked for just went to waste.

Being on the other side of the fence now, there are a few things that I’ve learnt over the years that I wish I knew last time, and maybe I would have been a much happier person back then.

I think many athletes tend to blame themselves when the outcome is not what they expect. But ask yourself, did you leave everything you have in the pool? If you did, then DON’T EVER BLAME YOURSELF for not doing as well as you expected for that race, because you already swam to the best of your ability, and that is what counts. So don’t see yourself as a failure; rather, use this race as motivation to strive harder and achieve better for the next competition.

Instead of “I could have changed this part of my race and the outcome would have been different.” Think “When I change this part of my race, I will be able to do better in the next competition.” 

One thing that hurt me the most was to see teammates crying at the SEA Games because they missed out on the medal placings. It wasn’t because they did badly, it was just that their competitors did better. I had my fair share of crying too when I missed out on the medals in some of my events even when I swam my personal best time, but it’s okay to cry when you literally spend half your life in the pool, so it definitely means a lot to us. More importantly, we have to stop blaming ourselves, and realize that we did not lose, it’s just that others have done better than us, and we’ll get them back the next time again.

I understand that there might be a feeling that you’ve let everyone who supported you down, but trust me, you already did your best, and they are already proud of what you’ve achieved. Always remember that the people that truly care for you will be always be there with you through the bad times, and rejoice with you during your good times.

If it makes you feel any better, an average size of a SEA Games squad is about 15 guys and 15 girls, which means you’re already 1 of the 15 fastest swimmers in Singapore, and from Sports Singapore’s National Sports Participation Survey,  there are approximately 259,800 people that swim. So to be 15th out of 259,800 people, which is the top 0.0003% in Singapore (don’t worry I used a calculator for this), is already an amazing feat! So don’t see any less of yourself.

I know I digressed a little, but you get my point, don’t see any less of yourself.

I remember back in 2011 when I was about to give up swimming, an advice given from my mum stuck with me till today: It doesn’t matter how slow you are at the start of your career, what matters most is at the end of the day, you end off at where you want to be in life. It may take you months, or years of hard work to get there, but always remember that you’re in your own race, and there is no one else you’ll need to compare to besides yourself. So keep your head up and keep fighting on, and you’ll get to where you want to be one day.

Reach your fullest potential and be the best version of yourself.

Lastly, always remember that God has a plan for you, and your time will come eventually. All you have to do is to trust and enjoy the process and things will fall into place for you. I remember being really furious in my prayers when I failed to medal in the past 2 editions of my SEA Games, like does He even exist? But looking back now I realized that He always had a plan for me. For all you know, I may have retired if I had won a medal at my first SEA Games, because my goal would be achieved and I would be complacent. But losing gave me a far greater swimming experience as it has made me a stronger individual, someone who is no longer afraid of failure because when you’ve fallen that deep, things will only get better from there on wards. So keep the faith, and realized that you’ve already come so far. It took you many years to come this far, so don’t give up just yet!

To the unsung heroes of the SEA Games, remember that you’re already a winner. Lets strive do to better for the next. 🙂


P.S. Photos were taken by Adrian Seetho and Andy Chua from the 2017 SEA Games. All credit goes to them! 

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Facebook: Pang Sheng Jun

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Appreciation post: My 5th SEA Games ended in a blink of an eye

Still can’t believe that the 2017 SEA Games is already over! It honestly feels like it was just December yesterday when the season just started. I’m happy that I can finally bid farewell to those sleep deprived nights, and the countless hours of pushing my body to its maximum pain threshold; all that to clock faster times during race day. It’s time to pig out and sleep forever now!!!!

Although I’m relieved that the pressure is finally over, I’m also sad that it has ended. I’ll definitely miss the adrenaline high that the competition brings once I’ve caught up with my sleep debt.

The harsh reality is starting to hit me as I looked back at my first SEA Games in 2009 – I’m getting old, and my role in the squad has changed from a rookie to a senior. More pressure comes naturally knowing that the clock is ticking for me career wise as age is definitely catching up, but I’ll just enjoy every moment I have left in this sport.

I came in to the 2017 SEA Games with a goal in mind – To win my first individual Gold medal at the SEA Games. I’m sure that many of you know that medals don’t come easy for me at the games, and I still have yet to win my first individual Gold medal. I was at the fittest shape in my career, so this goal was definitely achievable.

My best shot was in the Individual Medley events, and the closest one was the 200m Individual Medley.

The first 3 lengths of my swim went according to plan, and I was positioned at about 3rd place approaching the last 50m. I could see the silhouette of the first place swimmer as we were neck to neck, and that literally gave me the the surge of adrenaline through my body as I approached the Freestyle. However, the last 15m felt as though time slowed down for me as lactate was kicking in tremendously at this point of the race.

“Do it for Singapore, for Singapore. For Singapore…” was all that went through my head in the last 15m. At this point in time I couldn’t see the guy who was fighting for 1st place as my head was already down preparing for the finish.

I hit the wall as hard as I could, and turn straight to look at the score board.

My heart sank pretty deep when I saw a (2) next to my name. The difference that separated a Gold from a Silver was just 0.3 seconds. It was really hard to accept the fact that this happened.

Imagine working your ass off 30 hours a week and to see yourself getting out touched by 0.3 seconds, that was something I couldn’t bring myself to believe. I kinda felt my heart cramping a little at that point in time, and the harder I tried to control my emotions, the more it felt like someone was cutting a million onions beside me, and that was when I started to break down a little.

However, that’s not the point of this story; through this losing experience, I’ve came to learn the power and influence of a team, and how they helped turn my painful experience into a good one.

Words can’t describe how grateful I was for my coaches, teammates, and support staffs as they came to cheer me up and reassure me that everything was ok. They still regarded me like a winner of the race which made it feel a whole lot better for me.

As we had a relay at the same night that was coming up, my relay mates Danny, Zheng, and Joseph also cheered me back up and told me that the night wasn’t over, and we could end it off it a bang together.

With the assurance everyone gave me, I was able to get rid of the sadness quickly from my race and move on from it, and thanks to everyone, we ended off with a bang indeed. 🙂

Swimming may seem like an individual sport, but when you spend countless of hours day in and day out with the same people, you create an unbreakable bond between your teammates and coaches. Behind every swimmer, there’s always an endless amount of support from coaches, teammates, Sport Science team (which includes Nutritionist, Physiologist, Psychologist, Biomechanist, and Strength and Conditioning), various masseurs, and not forgetting our parents and significant others as well. So on the surface it may seem like an individual effort, but if you dig deeper, swimming is much more than an individual sport.

There’s always a lot of pressure when it comes to racing big meets like these as you’re not only swimming for yourself, but you are racing for the team that is behind you as well.

To the coaches Gary, Stephan, and Sonya, thank you for being like our second parents, guiding us and allowing us to pour any troubles and worries that we may have in our lives (it can be as ridiculous as relationship problems), and always being there for us 24/7. The ratio of coaches to swimmers is about 1:10, so it’s amazing how you guys are able to know each and every swimmer inside out.

To the Sport Science team, thank you for convincing me about the importance of warm downs, diet, and mental strength when it comes to optimum race performance. I’ve definitely learnt a lot from you guys and I’ll apply what I’ve learnt when the next season begins!

To my amazing teammates, I’m glad we pushed each other during the hardest days of training, because it sure paid off during the Games! Congrats to each and everyone of you for your achievements and lets all strive for another great season again together. 🙂

To my roommate “Zheng Wei”, mad props to you for winning an individual Gold medal in your SEA Games debut! There’s honestly so many things that I can learn from you so I look forward to our next competition as roommates again!

To my bestest friend, thank you for flying all the way to KL to support me! Glad I’m still a winner in your heart. Like what you said – it’s not that I’ve lost my races, it’s that others have won. I’ve already did my personal best times, so have no regrets. Grateful to have someone like you to constantly pick me up during my lowest moments. 🙂

To my really patient parents, I’m just glad to not leave the games empty handed this time around! Thank you for always believing in me despite coming home empty handed for my first 2 SEA Games. I’m glad that you guys never gave up on me and we pulled through.

To my sisters, sorry I couldn’t get a photo with you all at the games, but thank you for coming all the way down to Malaysia to support me. It’s nice to have the whole family behind me during my races! 🙂

Lastly, here’s a BIG THANK YOU to everyone that has supported me through my races! I’ve read all your really encouraging messages and I’m really grateful for that. It has definitely made me proud to be part of Team Singapore. 🙂

Also, special mention to my bro Adrian Seetho for always capturing these wonderful moments of my swimming career! These will be the photos I’ll look back on to bring back great memories when I retire from the sport. You’ve definitely brought back many great memories for all of us through your passion for photography!

This concludes my 2017 chapter. I’ve definitely grown a lot as an individual this year and there are definitely things that I’ll need to work on leading up to the next few major competitions, which may potentially be my last ones. There isn’t much time left for me in the sport, so I’ll enjoy every moment and seize every opportunity I have to work even harder. And maybe who knows, the stars may align and the odds may be in my favor for the next one.  I’ll always keep my faith in God. 🙂


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Instagram: @swimpsj
Facebook: Pang Sheng Jun

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How to trick your mind to effortlessly complete your swimming workout

I’m sure many swimmers, especially distance swimmers, can relate to your coaches giving you insanely long sets during your training sessions which may feel impossible to complete sometimes, especially on your worst days of training. Sometimes it makes you wonder if they were smoking weed or something the night before to have given you such insane sets.

Being a distance swimmer for most of my swimming life, there are definitely some days I get mad when my water feel isn’t great and there’s an insane set lined up for me during that training session.

Sets like 10×400 IMs, 40×100 Freestyles, 3 rounds of 8×50 at lactate intensity just to name a few. I’ve slowly learnt to overcome the fear of these insanely long sets by tricking my mind into thinking that sets like these are actually not long and easy to accomplish.

Whether you’re a distance swimmer, or someone who just hates long and intensive sets in general, here are some tricks that I’ve learnt over the years which may benefit you as well:

1) Break the set into portions

Photo Credits: Andy Chua

For a set like 10x400IM, instead of telling yourself it’s a 10x400m set, tell yourself that it is 2 x [5x400IM], or 5 x [2x400IM], because it’ll seem so much easier to complete if you break it down into portions. After completing the first [2x400IM], tell yourself that you only have 4 more rounds of that cycle, and after completing [5x400IMs], tell yourself that you only need to complete 1 more round of that cycle. In that way, you’ll always have something to look forward to, and this allows you to take each 400m at a time and focus on 1 swim at a time, instead of trying to complete the whole 10x400IM set as a whole. Trust me, this shift in mindset makes the set a whole lot easier!

2) Pick something you would like to focus on during the set

There’s always something important to focus on during a main set. For example, do you want to focus on your distance per stroke for the day? Or your kick? There’s always something that you can focus on during the training session itself, so pick something that you would like to focus on for that session and try to perfect it; I guarantee that your set will be over before you know it because you’ll be so focused on perfecting your technique that you might even forget the pain of the set.

For a set like 40×100, aim to pull 32 strokes for the first 50m and 33 strokes for the second 50m, and count each 100m to see if you’ve achieved that expectation, you’ll realize that the set gets much more interesting as there’s a challenging element to the set instead of just going through the motion.

3) Tell yourself it’s the “last set before the last set” 

Another mental trick that ensures that you don’t save up for the last max effort. In a set like 8x50m max effort, before doing the 7th one, tell yourself that it’s the “last max effort before the last max effort“, that way, you’ll naturally go harder on the 7th one and not save up your energy for the last one. For some reason, you’ll always have that extra bit left in you to sprint the last one, so if you can just go hard on the 7th one, you’ll be pushing much harder during training than you usually do.

4) The set naturally gets easier after halfway

Always remember that for some reason, the set just gets much easier after you hit the halfway mark. Say you’re in a 8x50m max effort set, if you don’t already realize, the last 4x50m is always easier than the first 4x50m. Maybe it’s your mind telling you that the end is almost near, which is why it mentally feels easier to complete the last 4x50m in the max effort set.

To fully take advantage of this, when your coach gives you a 8x50m max effort set, instead of thinking that there’s 8x50m to complete, tell yourself that it is only a 4x50m max effort to halfway, and the next 4x50m will be an easy one to complete. That way, the set will feel much shorter than it is and you’ll clock better pace times.

It may not make sense, but it’s basically tricking your mind into thinking that the set is easier than it is. After all, the difference between accomplishing a good set and a bad one is mostly mental, so if you can trick your mind into better completing a set, why not?

5) Spur your teammates on during the main set 

The final and most important thing that has helped made my swimming workouts easier – Always remember that the best way for you to improve is when you help others improve as well. Spur your teammates on during practice, and cheer them on when both of you are in the same main set. It not only makes them better, it also serves as a reminder for yourself to swim your heart out during training as well. If they can get better, it will push you to be better too; this is something that I’ve learnt ever since I joined the National Training Squad. Swimming may be an individual sport, but working as a team always makes completing sets a whole lot easier, because being in a team, you’ll realize that your teammates are always there to spur you on during practices.

Always remember that you’ll have your bad days too, that’s when your teammates will step in and spur you on.

The bond created with your teammates through pushing each other on during training sessions also translates to race day. Because working together day in and day out will create such a strong bond between your teammates that even if you end up racing in the same race, you’ll naturally still want the best for them during their race.

So here are the various tips and tricks which I’ve learnt over the years of swimming and I hope that it will help you with your training as well! Keep working hard guys. 🙂

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My opinion on the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine [sp]

Living in Singapore all my life, I know that there are some that believe in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and some don’t. I’ve personally trusted TCM for about 18 years now, so I’ll share some things that I’ve learn through it. 🙂

To me, I always believed that Chinese and Western medicine work hand in hand when it comes to treating an illness. Western medicine treats the signs and symptoms of the sickness, whereas Chinese medicine treats the root of the problem.

Say for example if I had a cough, I’ll need both Western and Chinese medication as Western medication stops the cough almost immediately, and the Chinese medicine ensures that the cough doesn’t come back as it clears the root of the cough.

There are also times where we may also feel unwell for some reason, and we don’t know what’s the cause of the problem. It may be something as simple as feeling super lethargic, having weird and random headaches, feeling irritable & frustrated. That’s when TCM can help you with your problem as they are able to find the root of your problem through a simple pulse measurement.

For me personally, I see a TCM when I’m feeling lethargic and stressed out, usually either from my swimming training, or being too stressed when University exams are approaching. I find that TCM helps with calming my nerves down and helping me sleep well! As a swimmer, recovery is crucial and TCM has helped me with my sleep and therefore recovering well after every training session.

Here’s a run down of how a treatment in TCM works, all credit goes to PULSE TCM for treating me and ensuring that I’m able to train my heart out during my vigorous swimming sessions! 🙂

1) Pulse measurement  

I’m unsure about the variation of pulses, but all I know is that your left and right pulse shows the different symptoms that your body has, and the doctor is able to see where the problem lies just by taking your pulse.

After taking this Pulse, Dr Joyce Chee (doctor above) asked if I was having really vivid dreams, which was true as I had a dream the previous night that I was swimming, and I actually woke up doing a full swimming stroke haha! But that only happens when I’m stressed. And from genetics, there’s also a correlation between stress and having tummy aches for me, so having butterflies in my stomach is quite common for me.

Amazing part was that all these symptoms could be felt through my pulse, so there wasn’t much I needed to say to the doctor.

2) Acupuncture 

Next step was acupuncture, which I’m not a huge fan of due to the pain. And to have needles in my tummy was a pretty unpleasant feeling. But if it can help with strengthening my tummy and making me swim faster, I’m in for this idea!

What made it worse was having electric currents pulsating through my tummy during the acupuncture treatment. But not to worry, it wasn’t that painful, it was quite comfortable to be honest!

However, it’s the inserting needles part that hurts, so if you can pain through that part, the rest will be fine.

3) Verdict 

Overall, I did feel an immediate relief in my tummy after the acupuncture, but it wasn’t 100% well at that time as my tummy aches were still present, but I slept pretty well that night without any vivid dreams. It’s good to note that after a few days, the tummy aches were gone so I could train well again. 🙂

So to reiterate my point, I personally am a strong believer of Traditional Chinese Medicine as it has helped me out through my swimming career. I also believe that Chinese and Western medicine should go hand in hand when curing a sickness as Western medicine is for immediate cure, and Chinese medicine is to cure the root of the problem to prevent it from coming back again.

If you’re keen on visiting PULSE TCM as well, feel free to click on the link on the left to book your own appointment! Do note that the doctors there are all bilingual so don’t worry if you can’t speak fluent Chinese, you can communicate with the doctors in English as well. Hope I managed to convince you on the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine! And hope it helps you cure your underlying sicknesses as well. 🙂

If you guys have any questions about TCM treatments, you can always check their Ask Physician platform!

Also, you guys can quote Sheng Jun to enjoy first Acupuncture Treatment (inclusive of consultation) at $48!


Pulse TCM Clinic Address:

Wheelock Place
501 Orchard Road, Wheelock Place #03-04, Singapore 238880
11am to 9pm daily
6235 2855

Marina Bay Link Mall
8A Marina Boulevard, Marina Bay Link Mall #B2-52, Singapore 018984
Mon – Fri: 11am – 8pm | Sat: 11am – 6pm
6634 8933


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My response to: ‘How can 97 marks be not good enough?’ This is why all kids should learn sports

(Photo by Straits Times)

I was initially surprised to see that scoring 97 marks in a Chinese test did not make the cut for the Higher Chinese classes in Primary 2 in St. Hilda’s Primary School. But after reading the full article, I personally feel that it was a fair decision made.

To summarize the Straits Times article, some students’ parents complained that even though their children scored 97 marks for their Primary 1 Chinese test, they failed to make it to the Higher Chinese class in Primary 2 as they weren’t under the top 25% of students who scored above 97 points.

However, I would like to mention that it is not that the students did not do well; they did really well! Just that other students did better than them, which was why they did not qualify for the Higher Chinese class in Primary 2. Honestly, it’s not the students fault, they did their best, but it just wasn’t good enough. So I feel that instead of complaining to the school on how unfair the system is, parents should properly educate their kids on how to not be discouraged by this setback and keep pressing on. After all, they’re only Primary 1!! There’s so much more to their life than pondering over a Primary 1 Chinese test.

You know, kids always strive to do their parents proud, so if parents show any signs of disappointment to their kid’s performances, they can definitely sense it and blame themselves for it. Coming from a kid myself, I can vouch for that.

So parents, instead of complaining to the school about how unfair your child has been treated, educate your child on the importance of setbacks in life, and how they can use it to their advantage to make them stronger individuals!

To the kids that did not make it to the Higher Chinese class, always remember that it’s all about perspective – You can either ponder all your life about how you failed to make it to the Primary 2 Higher Chinese class, or you can move on from it, and strive to have better Chinese results in Primary 2. Honestly, you’ll lead a happier life if you choose to move on and strive for better results!

Also, if you can have that kind of mindset, you’ll officially be out of the rat race education system that many Singaporean kids are stuck in now and lead a much happier and stress free life.

The highest that I ever got in a Chinese test was in Primary 2, where I got 98. (WOW I WOULD HAVE MADE IT TO THE HIGHER CHINESE CLASS! But does it matter?) I still remember bragging about it to my mum that I no longer needed to study for my Chinese test as I was already smart enough, and she actually allowed me to stop studying, pretty chill mum I should say! However, my scores dropped to an average of 60-70 points for the next few tests, as I always end up coloring the fruits in the test papers instead of doing the paper. That still did not make me change my mind on studying again though…

But did my parents scold me when I got 60-70 points in my test?


But why not?

If I don’t get good results, I won’t be able to get into a good Secondary school, and without a good secondary school, I wouldn’t be able to go to a good JC, University, etc… It’s an endless cycle.

But why didn’t my parents scold me? Was it because they didn’t care about me?


It’s because they understood that there was more to life than just being paper smart. What’s the point of grinding all day in my books if it was something that I did not enjoy? For me, they knew that my passion was in swimming, so they allowed me to dedicate my time in an area which I was passionate about.

And this leads me to my main point on how sports can properly educate your kids on overcoming setbacks and becoming a stronger individual in the long run.

I’ll be using swimming as a sporting example to illustrate my points for obvious reasons.

In swimming, the best lessons are learnt the hard way. Think about it, have you ever remembered how you executed your best races? I highly doubt so. The best races happen naturally without much thought, it’s as though your body was on autopilot mode. You probably already forgotten how that racing experience felt and have already moved on from it.

On the other hand, when you have a bad race, you tend to be more critical on yourself, and try to figure out what went wrong in that race. You’ll start to find ways to better yourself in the next race, and keep replaying the race in your head to figure out what exactly went wrong and correct that aspect in the next race. And that is when the most efficient learning occurs.

Why do we learn best when we perform at our worst? That’s because we’re hurt and upset!! We’re not contented with the outcome, so we’ll be much more motivated to strive for better results so that in time, we’ll get the desired outcome that we want.

I’m sure that with this setback, the kids who didn’t make it to the Higher Chinese class will be more motivated to study harder in Primary 2.

(Photo by Wong Foo Lam)

Like what one of my swimming coaches Sonya Porter always tells me – you learn best when you are feeling at your worst; that is when everything does not flow naturally, and there is so much to pay attention to detail about because everything does not seem to be falling in place. Therefore, if we can learn to execute the correct things during our worse days, we will be even better during our best days.

So don’t be afraid of bad days, and embrace the worst feelings, because that is when you become a better swimmer.

As for the kids that did not make it to the Higher Chinese class, don’t be disheartened! You merely just had a setback, so get back up on your feet, and start studying hard again, you have so much potential in you, so don’t give up just because of a Primary 1 Chinese test.

“It is better to suffer some pain now, than a great deal of more pain later.” – Tom Campbell 

As for parents, I personally feel that you should allow your kids to experience this setback at a young age instead of fighting for them to get pushed to the Higher Chinese class. Allowing them to experience this setback at a young age gives them a taste of reality, that things will not always go the way they want to in life. Because that’s what life is all about, ain’t it? We will tend to appreciate things less when they come easy, that’s just human nature.

On the other hand, if you successfully transferred your kids to the Higher Chinese class, they’re going to grow up thinking that it’s ok to not strive to be a better person, because “my parents will help me with what I want anyway.” I’ve seen many self entitled kids nowadays so lets not contribute to it.

(Photo by Wong Foo Lam)

In swimming, say you did your very best, and even broke the World Record for an event, but you came in 4th place, which is out of the medal tally, because the top 3 swimmers did better and broke a World Record as well. Is it possible to complain to the judges and say HEYYY THIS IS UNFAIR!!! I DID REALLY WELL TOO!!! I SHOULD BE GIVEN A MEDAL AS WELL!!! 


And that’s the harsh reality in sport. You can be swimming the best race of your life, but if others are better, you will get kicked out of the podium, and there’s nothing you can do about it to change the outcome. Which is the same for the kids which scored 97 points. Yes granted that they scored well, and nobody can take that away from them. But if others scored better, then it is a fair decision to put them on the normal Chinese class in Primary 2. So move on, and work harder in the Primary 2 Chinese class.

(Photo by Wong Foo Lam)

Swimming has humbled me as an individual, and it has also taught me an important life lesson, which I’m sure that many athletes can relate to – The reality of life is that things will not always go our way. But when it doesn’t, we have every right to be sad about it. But after being sad, we’ll have to learn to move on, get back up on our feet, and strive for better results in the future. After all, it isn’t the end of the world, so we can always try harder the next time around. If you keep with that mindset, you’ll look back at your life with no regrets, because deep down, you’ll know that you’ve live life to your fullest potential. 🙂


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Instagram: @swimpsj
Facebook: Pang Sheng Jun


Disclaimer: This post was written solely based on my own opinion. It is written with the purpose of inspiring readers to get over their setbacks and hopefully become stronger individuals. 


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Here’s how you can get the most out of every workout [SP]

I always believe that in order to achieve the sporting goal you’ve set yourself out for, working hard is definitely important. However, if we can learn to train hard and smart at the same time, it will definitely make your work outs more efficient.

I’ve recently started using the Jabra Elite Sport earphones, and I’ll break down on how it has benefited me, and if you think it will be suitable for you too, feel free to use my discount code (which I will leave at the bottom) to make your own purchase of the Jabra Elite Sport. 🙂

I’ll be going through these 2 key areas to the Jabra Elite Sport so feel free to skip to the areas which you are interested in:

  1. Product details
  2. How it has benefited me

1) Product Details

This is how the Jabra Elite Sport looks like after unboxing. It comes with a charging case which gives 2 x full charges, which is really a huge plus point for me because I travel a lot!!! And of course, a USB charging cable. So if you travel a lot as well, this may be suitable for you.

1 charge gives 3 hours of play time, which is equivalent to 1 full work out. So total play time for these earphones will be 9 hours.

It also comes with 3 sets of Ear wings (the things that secure the earphones in your ears), 3 sets of ear gels, and 3 sets of foam tips. So you can really fully customize it until it fits perfectly to your ears. For me I personally like the ear gels instead of the foam tips, and I do not use the ear wings as I already feel that the ear gels itself already secures it quite tightly into my ears. But if you want that extra tightness, the ear wings are there for you. 🙂

Just to give you a clearer idea on how handy these earphones are… To be honest, these earphones are really really small, and the charging case is small too. So you don’t need to worry about it taking up a lot of space.

The Jabra Elite Sport offers the Jabra Sport Life app which allows you to customize your workouts according to your fitness level and goals to ensure that you are always on track. Here’s the breakdown of the app, you have to first enter your details.

Next, you will have to calibrate the app by… Running or jumping constantly for 15 seconds, which I suggest you do that part at home before working out!!

Next, here’s a summary of your workout.

And how you can set your own workout targets before working out.

Here’s the most important part – setting your training plan to ensure that you’re sticking to it. We may get tired and fatigued after a day of work out. So by setting plans, it adds accountability to yourself to make sure that you stick to the plan you’ve set yourself out for. This part does not apply so much for me as I’m currently training under a few professional coaches which help me with my monthly training plans. But if you are training by yourself, then this will GREATLY benefit you.

Here’s some motivation to let you know that you’re training on par towards your goals. 🙂

And of course, like what I’ve mentioned, training hard and smart at the same time allows us to be more efficient in our work outs. Recovery is as important as training, so this app allows you to track your recovery rates to ensure that you’re not over training! So it’s safe to say that we will not need to worry about burn outs with the help of the Jabra Sport Life.

2) How it has benefited me

The Jabra Elite Sport has benefited me mostly on the convenience of carrying it around with ease, and the freedom from strings. I personally HATE untangling strings every time I want to listen to music using my earphones. I don’t know why, but don’t you feel that earphones must magically tangle themselves when you put them in the case, even though you made sure you folded them nicely before putting them in? Happens a lot to me. Therefore, these pair of earphones has saved me a lot of untangling time and allows me to listen to music almost immediately after I take them out.

Also, like I’ve mentioned above, I travel a lot, so having a carrying case which allows me to charge my earphones twice really saves me the trouble of looking for a USB port somewhere around the airport to charge my earphones.

Lastly, these pair of earphones are WATERPROOF. YES THEY ARE!!! This really is the icing to the cake for me as being a swimmer, my ears are constantly wet for obvious reasons. So I used to worry a lot about spoiling my earphones so I’d not wear them after warming up during my swimming competition. But with this pair of earphones being waterproof, I’m excited to wear them the next competition I compete in. NO MORE FEAR OF SPOILING MY EARPHONES YAY!!!

So in summary, here are plus points of the Jabra Elite Sport earphones:

  1. 9 hours of total playing time
  2. In ear heart rate monitor and analyzer
  3. Customizable fit to your ears
  4. Jabra Sports Life app allows you to keep track on your goals
  5. Waterproof
  6. Chargeable case

So if you’re keen on getting the Jabra Elite Sport, head over to the link here and use the code SWIMPSJELITE5 upon checkout to receive a 5% off the product.

All the best in achieving your goals!! Hope that the Jabra Elite Sport can help you in your goals, just like how it has helped me. 🙂




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I used to be afraid of failing… but not anymore

Everyone of you have gone through setbacks, whether it’s failing a paper you studied really hard for, to a competition which you did badly, even when you’ve did the best preparation for it.

Why must life be so unfair? Others have made the same preparations but they have done well, so why didn’t you?

You may even feel like Sometimes you just feel like the world is against you, or life is just pissing you off on purpose, don’t you?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I myself, and I’m sure many others, have gone through this tough phase and overcame it. I personally overcame my setbacks by constantly believing in the process, and believe in myself despite all the bad things that have happened in my life. But first, you have to accept the fact that the world is not against you, you just happen to be really unlucky this time around.

If you keep telling yourself that it is just one bad experience and it will get better in time, you’ll start to believe that you can get out of the slump and start achieving what you set yourself out for.

I’ll be teaching you a simple trick today which will help you in believing yourself more and staying motivated towards achieving your goals which you have in your life.

All you have to do is to look in the mirror, picture yourself as the person you want to be in 2-3 years time, and the achievements you want to have by then. Write them down in a piece of paper, or in your phone which you can set as your home screen, and start taking little steps to get to the person which you picture yourself to be. DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why is it important to write it down? To me personally, when I write something down in my phone and set it as my home screen, I am being held accountable to myself. Whenever I press the switch on my home screen, I would always be reminded of the goal which I want to achieve. For example, if your friend were to ask you out for a late night, but you’ve got morning training the next day, temptation will definitely strike you to just hang out for a bit. This is when the reminder that you’ve written in your phone will give you the extra motivation to to rest up and prepare for the tough training session for the next day.

Trust me, by writing it down, it gives you the opportunity to see the big picture, to constantly remind you of where you want to be at the end of the finish line.

Being accountable to myself has personally benefited me as well. I think many of you have read about my setback story which I almost gave up in life. (link here) But with the power of believe and being accountable to myself, I bounced back and achieved what I set myself out to achieve.

So this was me in 2011:


I felt really awful and depressed in 2011, and it was the period that I was in my worst shape in my life. I was at the lowest point in my swimming career, and it was really hard to climb back up from it.

I was so unfit to the point that a simple swim set which I used to complete easily would take me twice the amount of effort to complete, and man it was really really discouraging, especially when you’re swimming times that you’ve done a few years back. It kinda feels like the training that you’ve put in the past couple of years have gone down the drain.

However, that did not stop me from believing in the process. As I have mentioned above, I pictured where I wanted to be in 2013-2015 so I committed myself to working hard towards being the person I wanted myself to be.

I pictured myself as a much fitter, faster swimmer than I was there. And of course, I pictured myself winning a SEA Games medal after my dreadful 2011 experience. I told myself that never again I’m going to feel this devastated in my life.

To me, the only way that I could get out of this devastation was to win a medal at the next SEA Games. So I pictured myself in 2011 and thought about hanging the medal around my neck in 2013, alongside with amazing things that could happen in my swimming career if I were to be fitter and faster.


With that mentality, I started working a lot harder, and kept reminding myself of that medal I desired so much, but it has always been taken constantly away from me.

I was rarely tempted to stay up late during my training days as I know that it will be detrimental to my performances. There were some occasions that I couldn’t resist the temptation of a late night of playing computer games, but being accountable for my own actions really made me change those bad habits.

Competitions are brutal – everyone is fighting their hearts out in a race just to win, and there can only be one winner in a race. This is why in order to win, you’ll have to sacrifice, and learn to do things that are out of the norm.


So by the end of 2013, I was able to make that picture I had in 2011 to a reality, all through believing in the process, and being accountable to my actions. This goes to show that as long as you set your mind up to a goal, and stick to it no matter how hard it may be, you’ll be able to achieve them in time to come. 🙂


Building from that, 2013 gave me a lot more motivation to work even harder than before, as I know that anything’s possible as long if I set myself up well for it, and set goals which I am accountable for.

University got really stressful, and it wasn’t giving me enough rest time between sessions, so I took a leap of faith and took a break from school to focus on swimming. I had the courage to do that as I wanted to make sure that I was accountable to myself, and preparing myself to the best of my ability when the big day comes.

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And true enough, goals which I set myself out to achieve has been done again, because I’ve gave myself an opportunity to perform at the best of my ability, and I always held myself accountable to my own actions.

I started being more accountable to myself when I’ve failed to medal in both the 2009 and 2011 SEA Games. I used to think that it was a curse that I failed so badly back then, but come to think of it, failing has taught me many life lessons which I treasure today. In order to appreciate your success more, you’ll have to learn to fail first. Because you’ll only realize the sweetness of success when you’ve failed badly.


If I were to reflect back on the setbacks of my life, I’m proud to say that I’m glad those experiences happened. Because it shaped me to the person I am today – someone who is no longer afraid of failing, and someone who is constantly accountable for my own actions.

I’ve already made plans for the 2017 SEA Games moving on from my 2015 SEA Games experience, and I’m getting fitter and faster with each passing day. I’ll keep my targets a secret but just know that I’ve already pictured where I want to be by 2017. So I hope that you’ve made your plans too!

With that said, I hope that my post will motivate you to start making plans for yourself and hold yourself accountable to them! Remember to write them down, and I wish you all the best in achieving them. Let’s strive to get better together! 🙂


Follow me on:
Instagram: @swimpsj
Facebook: Pang Sheng Jun


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The importance of having a good haircut [sp]

Good haircuts are important – it gives you confidence, and it also says a lot about your lifestyle. I remember a friend telling me that your hair can change the way you look, and I fully agree with that!

Finding the right hairstylist has always been a problem, and I’m sure many of you had experiences where you felt super nervous right before a haircut because you’re worried that the hairstylist is unable to cut the hair that you very much desire.

All those months of growing your hair out is wasted due to one poor haircut. All your friends will go like “DUDE WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAIR?” And all you can do is just wait a few months for that sad hairstyle to go away.

Don’t worry, I know that EXACT feeling because I’ve been there before. I’ve had many bad haircuts in my life as well, and here’s one of them:

Yeap… half of my head was almost bald.

The stylist was like, “Yea ok! I know this haircut!” And after the haircut I swore to myself that I’ll never step into that salon ever again. It gets really really sad when the stylist messes up your hair because hair takes so long to grow and the stylist just messed it up in a day!

So today, I’d like to share with you how you can get that desired hairstyle that you want to by introducing you to my stylist. (P.S. There will be 3 free haircut giveaways worth $60 each at the bottom of this post so read on!) Don’t worry, you won’t be nervous when you get a haircut from my stylist. 🙂


H4U Salon is a newly opened salon at Centrepoint Shopping Mall. It’s located at level 4 just right beside the car park. So if you’re driving, take the uphill ramp from the car park and the first level you see will be the H4U salon level. (I hope this makes sense!)


So here’s the look of the completed haircut, to give you a breakdown of what I wanted my new haircut to be like, I told Shawn, my new hairstylist, that I wanted something short, neat, and presentable. Being an athlete meant endless gym and dryland circuit sessions, and my old hairstyle just couldn’t work out as my hair kept poking my eyes when I was doing my gym and dryland sessions. To give you a clearer idea, this was my old hairstyle:


My friends all say that old hairstyle made me look like a walking curry puff… but it’s ok…….

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The technique that Shawn uses to cut hair – from the photo above, you can see that the scissors are REALLY close to his hands (WTF!!!). I got super scared that he might actually cut his own fingers, but he told me that he’s done this for 20 years, and he’s already had many scars before this so rest assured that he was pass the stage of ever cutting himself.


I personally feel that a great stylist never uses the thinning scissors when cutting hair. It just makes your hair really messy after as there’s no control when it comes to cutting with thinning scissors. Never once did Shawn used this scissors to thin my hair which made me enjoy my haircut a lot because I usually cringe when hairstylist use the thinning scissors on me…

So this was how easy it was to style my new hairstyle:

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A slight little twist and pinch (which is less than 2 minutes) and I’m good to go!


And of course, all smiles to my fresh new haircut!!

So… to summarize the before and after of my haircut, this was before I had my haircut (featuring curry puff):


And after:


No regrets ditching the man bun!!!

And as promised, if you guys liked this haircut, Shawn has agreed to do 3 free haircut giveaways to you all! (girls included as well) Happiness is always best shared and I’m glad to be able to share this with you all. For more details, head over to this Instagram photo:

It’s a pretty simple contest, so good luck to everyone! 🙂

Oh and if you’re wondering, here’s the exact location for H4U Salon:
176 Orchard Road #04-16
Singapore 238843
To book an appointment, call: 67388849
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