How to balance both sports and studies in Singapore

As the saying goes, if there’s a will, there will be a way.


Many people have been asking me on how I can cope with University in Singapore when it’s so stressful and swimming is taking up a lot of my time. To be honest it isn’t easy, but if you are struggling to cope with school and training demands, I hope this post helps.

Here are some tips that may help you cope with your academics without sacrificing your sporting career.


1) Don’t set too high academic expectations 

You can’t always have the best of both worlds, if you want to succeed in one, you have to sacrifice the other a little. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t study or get a fail grade, but you can’t expect to still get straight As if you want to keep training everyday. It would be almost impossible to concentrate on studying after a really tough training session as the amount of fatigue you experience after training just makes you wanna sleep it off.

There are just times whereby you just want to concentrate but you’re just too tired, so as long as you don’t set too high academic expectations, you can just relax and sleep it off.


2) Parents should learn to understand your situation 

Your parents should also understand that due to training demands, you wouldn’t be able to get straight As in school. My parents are fully aware of that and understand that I can get really tired from all the training. My parents just told me that as long as my results are not “too ugly to be seen” it is ok.

And overall I guess my grades are not too bad so all is well. 🙂


3) Know your optimum study hour 

Dedicate 30minutes – 1 hour of studying time everyday. It will be really surprising how that little amount of time can make a difference. Just imagine this, 1 hour of studying a day totals up to 7 hours of studying a week. 1 hour of studying time/day isn’t too much to ask for!

And as long as you can dedicate 1 hour to study a day, you wouldn’t be too stressed out when exams are near.


4) Have a group of friends that are willing to help you out 

I often take Leave of Absence (LOA) from school to go for major games like the SEA Games and Asian Games, and I would be missing class. Missing class can be quite detrimental, especially when there’s a lot of information to learn and process in University. However, I am thankful to have a group of friends that are willing to go that extra mile to help me understand the new theories and concepts that they learn in school.

Some of them even give me their self revision notes to help me save time, and I am really grateful for them. 🙂


5) Sacrifice a little of your social life 


The hardest thing is life is to always say no. The word no may offend people if they take it wrongly as some may feel that you’re just not as keen to see them. But if you want to be able to continue your life as a student athlete, you have to learn to say no at times, even when it’s super hard. Saying no to late nights is definitely a must as rest is key to be able to perform well in school and in swimming for the next day.

So what if you sacrifice a little of your social life? At the end of the day when you’re standing on the podium, it will all be worth it.


6) Always have the big picture in your mind 


Set your goals, write it down, and be determined to achieve them. Don’t let anything stop you from achieving your goals. There will be times whereby you just feel like you want to have that late night out with friends, but as long as you constantly remind yourself of your goals, it would be able to help you overcome that temptation.


7) Everyone is facing the same problem as you 


We swimmers always complain about how stressful school is, and how we are really tired from all the homework and projects that are thrown at us.

But just think about it, if everyone else is facing the same problem and are still training, then what is your excuse? TOUGHEN UP!


8) Skip a training session if you need 

7 hours/ week may not be sufficient enough for you to study what you need to study, so taking a morning session off to study a little longer at night would be a wise choice. As long as you know you’ve put in a lot of hard work in training, one morning session off wouldn’t hurt. My coach fully understands my exam demands thus he wouldn’t mind me skipping a session to study as well.


9) Love what you are doing 


Last but not least, the most important thing is to love what you are doing! My passion for swimming is really strong. Honestly, though we train 10x a week, 2.5hours a session, I really enjoy doing it. It has already become a huge part of my life and I seriously would feel lost without swimming. I seriously don’t mind training until the Sun goes down while others are out having fun, because I have goals that I want to achieve in swimming and once I set myself a goal, I won’t stop until I achieve it.

I have also established strong relationships with my training mates so I spend most of my social life here as well!

Swimming really helps keep my mind off school for awhile, it’s like a temporary escape from reality, and I feel at home every time I’m swimming.

We’ll always have breakfast every Saturday to catch up with each others lives and that’s how we slowly build close relationships with each other. To be honest, most of my social life is spent with them as well, and I am really happy with my life. 🙂


So if you’re struggling to balance both sports and studies, I hope this post will help you out! 🙂


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