Hi Sheng Jun, I am a big fan. Could you post inspirational stories of yourself to motivate myself and other young inspiring swimmers to continue pursuing their goals? – A swimmer from CSC.
Initially I was afraid of the pool when I started swimming at 6, but with time and encouragement from my parents and a childhood coach, I had the courage to put my head in and start swimming.
As a kid, my parents always believed in enjoying the sport, so whenever I did not want to train, they would not force me to. There were even days that I told my parents I wanted to stay home and play Pokemon on my Gameboy and they allowed me to.
What is the rush of being the best in your age group now? Medals can wait, the main focus right now is about building unforgettable friendships and to have fun.
It’s About Enjoying The Sport
I remember once taking 3 days off swimming and having a whole chocolate cake right before a competition and I still did a personal best time. Surprising isn’t it? The key to swimming success is not always about staying focused and analyzing the race, it is actually all about having fun.
From that day, every time I had a competition, I would be rewarded with chocolate cake either by my coach or parents before my race. That was the life!
From here we can conclude that the secret to performing well is to just enjoy the whole process, to enjoy the competition. Do not stress yourself out too much, it will only have a negative impact on your performance.
A Setback in my Swimming Career
Lucky for me even when I was swimming for leisure and fun, I was still winning medals, which really motivated me to train much harder. However, there came a time when the move focused I became, things started to fall apart for me.
I was training harder but ironically my swimming results became worse. The reason behind my fall was not because I was over thinking my races or anything, it was just that every guy in my age was going through puberty. I was a late bloomer so I was racing against guys that were 2-3 heads taller than me. It was as good as a boy racing teenagers. I’m not exaggerating.
I felt really discouraged to lose over and over again to those bigger guys so I told my parents that I wanted to quit swimming. Imagine training harder than you have ever trained before and still losing, how is that worth it? Obviously my parents did not allow me to quit, and told me that “this is just a low phase in your life, be strong. Remember telling us that you want to be an Olympic Champion? Even champions have their low moments in their sporting career. Trust us you will get past this in no time.” You have no idea how angry I was at them at that point of time when I could not quit swimming.
What was worse was that I was far behind on my school work due to all the swimming training and I was often canned for this by my form teacher, Mrs Lim.
“SHENG JUN, QUIT SWIMMING LA, WHERE CAN SWIMMING BRING YOU? YOU CANNOT EVEN COMPLETE YOUR HOMEWORK AND YOU STILL WANT TO SWIM?” This statement was followed by a few strokes of the cane on my hand with a ruler. Teary eyes for me every time I was caned and I still do not know why I continued swimming. I feared school as I was caned by my teacher, and she was the person I feared most in life.
Even though there were so many things going on in my life at that period of time, I still continued training hard as I trusted my parents’ decision.
Have a Goal in Mind, and Never Give Up No Matter What Happens
It was only after 2 years of hardship that I finally grew (well just a little) and started winning medals again. My happiest moment when I was a kid was winning the Overall Champion for the ACS Swim Carnival. (Photo above)
As I collected the Overall Champion award, a familiar voice shouted from the crowd, “Sheng Jun!!!! Well done!” I immediately turned at the direction of where the voice was coming from. To my surprise, it was Mrs Lim!
After I saw her she waved at me with a smile, and she was standing beside 2 other teachers. “That is my student!” She said proudly with a smile to the 2 teachers.
All the fear, the hard work, and the amount of sacrifice over 2 years was worth the moment I saw the smile on her face. You have no idea how much happiness I felt at that moment of time as I had been through so many tough times to the point where I was going to break.
That was the time where my passion for swimming grew strong and I started to live by my ‘Hard Work Pays Off’ motto and kept training hard from that day. Never give up on your passion and goals no matter how impossible or hard they may be, because all your hard work will pay off one day, it is only just a matter of time. You are in control of your own life, do not let others tell you otherwise. Just take me as an example, if I had given up when I was a kid, I would not be where I am today.
I have come a long way and it is amazing how much I have grown since, but nothing has changed. My passion for swimming has still remained strong and I will keep training hard until I achieve the goals I set myself out for.
It is obviously very different now in the National Team, but it is a whole new experience. I will never forget the friendships made back then when I was a kid. Always remember to have fun, and you will realize how much more meaningful the sport becomes!
I am really thankful to my parents for the constant encouragement during my lowest points in my swimming career. Your family will always be by your side through the darkest moments of your life and I am really lucky to have them.
So, this is my story. Hope it inspires you and your friends to train even harder and continue to pursue on your goals! 🙂
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Hard Work Pays Off