1) Your own determination
The true test for every swimmer is this: How much time are you willing to sacrifice in the pool? Waking up at 4:50am every single day while others are sleeping, is it all worth it? An average national swimmer trains for about 5 hours a day, that is a total of 25 hours a week!
To give up or carry on, the choice is yours. Nobody will stop you.
Competitions will always be intense, heated and also personal. Most importantly, always respect your teammates and competitors whatever the outcome may be so that you’ll not only be a champion in the pool, but a champion in life.
That, to me, defines true sportsmanship of a swimmer.
3) Support From Family
I see a lot of parents nowadays pressuring their kids to perform well in swimming though they’re still in their childhood years. I personally feel that every kid should be given their own freedom to enjoy the sport instead of always being result oriented. They are already facing a lot of stress in school nowadays, so I think that swimming should be made enjoyable to them, a place to escape from the stress in school.
Stress will actually lead to lost of interest in the sport or even burn out, so I wouldn’t recommend pressuring kids at a young age.
When I was young, my parents made sure that I enjoyed every session of swimming. They didn’t force me to train when I didn’t feel like it. But every time I swam, it was like an escape from reality; when I dived in to the pool every time I didn’t think of anything, all I thought of was enjoying every minute of freedom away from reality. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.
But of course I wasn’t the fastest swimmer as a kid; in fact, I was one of the slowest. One of the coaches even asked my parents, “Why is your kid still even swimming? Look at how the other kids are performing as compared to your kid.” but my parents just laughed.
“Because he loves swimming, and nothing is going to stop us from letting him do what he loves.” And through their constant support and believe in me, I am where I am today.
4) Support From Coach
A good swimmer needs a good coach to succeed, and a good coach needs a swimmer to succeed as well; both aspects work hand in hand. I’m glad I’ve met many great coaches throughout my career that helped me become who I am today.
To me, every swimmer is different in their own way, and a great coach would be able find different ways to motivate each and every swimmer.
Take coach Gary as an example, he motivates every swimmer differently during our toughest sessions.
“Sheng Jun, I want you to go out hard for this set, don’t hold back, because when competitions come, nobody will wait for you.” “Trust me, don’t be afraid of pain, pain is only temporary.” I only started training with coach Gary for 2 months and he already knows my weakness; I always hold back a little during training in fear of pain, but I’m glad that he has helped me conquer that fear and it has made me realize my potential to become a better swimmer.
How he motivates one of my teammates Hyogo Kei is that he SHOUTS at him when he doesn’t do well. “KEI, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WAKE UP YOUR IDEA; NO ONE IS GOING TO CARE IF YOU’RE FEELING PAIN SO CARRY ON.” And that’s how Kei is motivated every time in training, which is different from what motivates me. Thus this makes coach Gary a great coach as he understands each and every swimmer training under him.
5) Support From Teammates
During our toughest times in training we never fail to encourage one another to push a little harder and not give up.
“Come on, half way there.”
“Just a few more, hang in there…”
“Feel like giving up? Our competitors are training harder.”
When you’re at your limit during training, encouragement from your teammates do really give you the extra boost to push harder. Teammates with the same amount of determination would definitely push you to train even harder.
So… What do we swimmers have in common?
When the going gets tough, we become tougher! And however tough the sets may be, we’ll always be ready to do it with a smile, because that is what swimming is all about! Enjoyment.
Look at what we all have in common; we are all in smiles during training, and that to me is the true definition of a swimmer.
As a kid I’ve always been enjoying the sport, and nothing changes when I grow older!
Special thanks to Adrian Seetho for all these wonderful photos!
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