The power of perseverance goes a long way in sports

pang sheng jun

I’ve had many ups and downs in my swimming career… the low points including failing to win a medal in 2 consecutive SEA Games and missing the qualification mark in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games, all of which were my biggest aspirations as a national swimmer.

However, these setbacks are the reason I am still swimming today. I have always taken each setback to motivate myself to work even harder than ever to achieve what I want out of the sport.

If my journey had been a smooth one throughout my whole swimming career, I could well have retired by now. However, the real question is – is that the true meaning of success? If success comes too easily, chances are that there would be fewer lessons learned from the experience; that is human nature.

Personally, the process of achieving one’s goal is far more important than the outcome, so having a rocky journey may not be that bad after all. It has taught me not to be afraid of falling. So what if we fall? We just have to get back up stronger again after every fall. Only we can limit ourselves from achieving our goals, so we must learn to believe more in ourselves.

Swimming is an unpredictable sport: sometimes the harder you work, the more negative results you might achieve. This happens because of one’s own expectations.  Having worked so hard for something, it is natural for one to expect better results, placing unnecessary pressure on oneself even before the competition starts. I have had my own fair share of bad experiences. I was stagnant with regards to my swim times for 4 years, and that was a very difficult period for me. During those 4 difficult years, I went through a period where I questioned myself about whether I had reached the plateau of my swimming career, and whether it was time to retire from the Sport.


But throughout those 4 difficult years when I wasn’t doing well in the Sport, my parents never gave up hope on me. They always saw the potential in my swimming career.

“It’s ok Sheng Jun, it’s just a bad week, I’m sure you’ll bounce back in no time. :)”

That was what my dad said to me… for 4 years. I was literally having a “bad week” for 4 years but he never gave up hope on me. He always saw the potential in me though I was clocking really bad swim times. There were even doubters who questioned my ability to my dad but that didn’t stop him from believing in me.

Seeing the amount of faith he had in me, I could not give up on the sport just yet. I needed to show him that I was better than that. But with every competition, I just did worse and worse. It felt like a constant losing battle, but I just kept the faith that “it was just a bad week” and that everything would get better in time.

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So through constant encouragement from my parents, friends and coaches who saw the potential in me, I have persevered through the tough times and I am glad that I did because after 4 years of being stagnant in my swimming career, I have managed to turn things around in the 5th year.


& Let me tell you this – All the 4 years of agony and despair in the sport… It was worth it when I saw the happiness from those who supported me when I bounced back from my slump.

Through this experience, I’ve learned that as long as you persevere and believe in yourself, you’ll be able to overcome any obstacles that are in front of you.

If you ever feel like giving up, always remember why you started in the first place. Just know that no matter adverse challenges may seem, you’ll be able to achieve them as long as you work hard and not give up.

Nobody knows what the future holds for us, but as long as we keep working hard, we’ll live life with no regrets.


Photos used in this blog were taken by Adrian Seetho Photography, check out more of his awesome work here:



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