I got inspired to write this post today because I’m really really sad that a few of my close friends (who are really talented swimmers) are planning to stop swimming because of school commitments. I do agree that school can get really stressful at times, but there’s always a way to manage school and swimming at the same time.
I’ve had the same experience back the days when I was still in the Singapore Sports School. We could either choose to do the diploma course which was offered in school and continue swimming, or take the O level route, quit the sport, and move on to Junior College. I chose the diploma route (which only 20% of the students chose), and continued swimming. So you can imagine how sad I was when 80% of my closest batch mates left the school and moved on with their lives in JC while I was still stuck in school.
At that point in time I deeply regretted my decision to stay on and continue swimming, because it felt like everyone was already moving on to a new phase in their lives, while I was still stuck in square one. I initially wanted to quit swimming and join my friends in JC, but I couldn’t do much because I didn’t have an O level certificate, so even if I wanted to, I just couldn’t.
Knowing that I didn’t have a choice, I continued swimming and I gotta be honest, the first few months were really hard. It kinda just felt empty and it wasn’t really a pleasant feeling when you see your friends posting about how excited they are about starting a new life in Junior College while you are still stuck in the same school. I stayed in boarding school so all that were left were empty dorm spaces which used to be my batch mates’ rooms.
However, in life, I believe that everything is about adaptation. I soon started to make new friends in school, and life got a lot better afterwards. I found a new clique of friends which shared the same goal as me. They were all driven by passion in their various sports, and we all had the same goal of excelling in sport.
So with these bunch of equally motivated friends, I found my passion to swim again, and the thought of my old friends leaving didn’t bother as much as it did before.
I continued this mindset even up to this date, even when I’m in University. I’m currently taking 5 years to complete a 4 year course, due to under-loading modules so that I can manage both swimming and studies at the same time. I’ll definitely be sad when I see my friends throwing their graduation hats when I still have one more year left in school. However, when I grow old and look back at my life, I will be happy that I’ve achieved the different milestones in my swimming career which I have set myself out to achieve.
The reason why I’m sharing my story today is because I want to let you know that if you love sports as much as I do, and you have some goals which you want to achieve in this sport, DON’T EVER, EVER GIVE UP ON THEM UNTIL YOU ACHIEVE THEM. Don’t be afraid that your friends may graduate earlier than you, or that you’ll be missing out on the fun memories that your batch mates create while you were busy training hard for an important competition. Because you have to understand that as a sportsman, these are sacrifices which you have to make in order to reach your goals. Just know that when you stand up on the podium with the gold medal around your neck, you’ll know that all that sacrifice was well worth it.
At the end of the day, just remember that no matter what happens, studies can wait, but sports can’t. You can still study when you’re 30, but you have already passed your peak age of sporting performance when you choose to do sports after you’re done studying. At that point in time, it will be too late to turn back to sport, and you’ll live life with “I could have achieved this in my sport, but I didn’t because I chose to study.” That amount of regret is just not worth it.
So which feels better? “I could have…” or “I finally did it!” The answers pretty obvious.
Looking back at my life now, the memories that I’ve created and the goals which I wanted to achieve in this sport are more or less achieved, so I’m glad that I chose to keep the faith and continue training hard. When I grow older and look back at my life, I can proudly say I did it!
Even though I’m graduating a year later than my batch mates, but come on, I’m going to be living for 70+ 80 years in my life, 1 year is merely 1%+ of my life span, that, I can afford to sacrifice. 🙂
I sincerely hope this blog post can inspire you to continue your path in sport, because once you made the decision to leave the sport, there will be no turning back from there.
P.S. To those who are thinking of retirement, every time the word ‘retirement’ comes across your mind, remember the amount of years you invested for the sport, and how hard it took you to get to where you are today. Don’t give up just yet, you’re almost there 😉
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