Appreciation post: My 5th SEA Games ended in a blink of an eye

Still can’t believe that the 2017 SEA Games is already over! It honestly feels like it was just December yesterday when the season just started. I’m happy that I can finally bid farewell to those sleep deprived nights, and the countless hours of pushing my body to its maximum pain threshold; all that to clock faster times during race day. It’s time to pig out and sleep forever now!!!!

Although I’m relieved that the pressure is finally over, I’m also sad that it has ended. I’ll definitely miss the adrenaline high that the competition brings once I’ve caught up with my sleep debt.

The harsh reality is starting to hit me as I looked back at my first SEA Games in 2009 – I’m getting old, and my role in the squad has changed from a rookie to a senior. More pressure comes naturally knowing that the clock is ticking for me career wise as age is definitely catching up, but I’ll just enjoy every moment I have left in this sport.

I came in to the 2017 SEA Games with a goal in mind – To win my first individual Gold medal at the SEA Games. I’m sure that many of you know that medals don’t come easy for me at the games, and I still have yet to win my first individual Gold medal. I was at the fittest shape in my career, so this goal was definitely achievable.

My best shot was in the Individual Medley events, and the closest one was the 200m Individual Medley.

The first 3 lengths of my swim went according to plan, and I was positioned at about 3rd place approaching the last 50m. I could see the silhouette of the first place swimmer as we were neck to neck, and that literally gave me the the surge of adrenaline through my body as I approached the Freestyle. However, the last 15m felt as though time slowed down for me as lactate was kicking in tremendously at this point of the race.

“Do it for Singapore, for Singapore. For Singapore…” was all that went through my head in the last 15m. At this point in time I couldn’t see the guy who was fighting for 1st place as my head was already down preparing for the finish.

I hit the wall as hard as I could, and turn straight to look at the score board.

My heart sank pretty deep when I saw a (2) next to my name. The difference that separated a Gold from a Silver was just 0.3 seconds. It was really hard to accept the fact that this happened.

Imagine working your ass off 30 hours a week and to see yourself getting out touched by 0.3 seconds, that was something I couldn’t bring myself to believe. I kinda felt my heart cramping a little at that point in time, and the harder I tried to control my emotions, the more it felt like someone was cutting a million onions beside me, and that was when I started to break down a little.

However, that’s not the point of this story; through this losing experience, I’ve came to learn the power and influence of a team, and how they helped turn my painful experience into a good one.

Words can’t describe how grateful I was for my coaches, teammates, and support staffs as they came to cheer me up and reassure me that everything was ok. They still regarded me like a winner of the race which made it feel a whole lot better for me.

As we had a relay at the same night that was coming up, my relay mates Danny, Zheng, and Joseph also cheered me back up and told me that the night wasn’t over, and we could end it off it a bang together.

With the assurance everyone gave me, I was able to get rid of the sadness quickly from my race and move on from it, and thanks to everyone, we ended off with a bang indeed. 🙂

Swimming may seem like an individual sport, but when you spend countless of hours day in and day out with the same people, you create an unbreakable bond between your teammates and coaches. Behind every swimmer, there’s always an endless amount of support from coaches, teammates, Sport Science team (which includes Nutritionist, Physiologist, Psychologist, Biomechanist, and Strength and Conditioning), various masseurs, and not forgetting our parents and significant others as well. So on the surface it may seem like an individual effort, but if you dig deeper, swimming is much more than an individual sport.

There’s always a lot of pressure when it comes to racing big meets like these as you’re not only swimming for yourself, but you are racing for the team that is behind you as well.

To the coaches Gary, Stephan, and Sonya, thank you for being like our second parents, guiding us and allowing us to pour any troubles and worries that we may have in our lives (it can be as ridiculous as relationship problems), and always being there for us 24/7. The ratio of coaches to swimmers is about 1:10, so it’s amazing how you guys are able to know each and every swimmer inside out.

To the Sport Science team, thank you for convincing me about the importance of warm downs, diet, and mental strength when it comes to optimum race performance. I’ve definitely learnt a lot from you guys and I’ll apply what I’ve learnt when the next season begins!

To my amazing teammates, I’m glad we pushed each other during the hardest days of training, because it sure paid off during the Games! Congrats to each and everyone of you for your achievements and lets all strive for another great season again together. 🙂

To my roommate “Zheng Wei”, mad props to you for winning an individual Gold medal in your SEA Games debut! There’s honestly so many things that I can learn from you so I look forward to our next competition as roommates again!

To my bestest friend, thank you for flying all the way to KL to support me! Glad I’m still a winner in your heart. Like what you said – it’s not that I’ve lost my races, it’s that others have won. I’ve already did my personal best times, so have no regrets. Grateful to have someone like you to constantly pick me up during my lowest moments. 🙂

To my really patient parents, I’m just glad to not leave the games empty handed this time around! Thank you for always believing in me despite coming home empty handed for my first 2 SEA Games. I’m glad that you guys never gave up on me and we pulled through.

To my sisters, sorry I couldn’t get a photo with you all at the games, but thank you for coming all the way down to Malaysia to support me. It’s nice to have the whole family behind me during my races! 🙂

Lastly, here’s a BIG THANK YOU to everyone that has supported me through my races! I’ve read all your really encouraging messages and I’m really grateful for that. It has definitely made me proud to be part of Team Singapore. 🙂

Also, special mention to my bro Adrian Seetho for always capturing these wonderful moments of my swimming career! These will be the photos I’ll look back on to bring back great memories when I retire from the sport. You’ve definitely brought back many great memories for all of us through your passion for photography!

This concludes my 2017 chapter. I’ve definitely grown a lot as an individual this year and there are definitely things that I’ll need to work on leading up to the next few major competitions, which may potentially be my last ones. There isn’t much time left for me in the sport, so I’ll enjoy every moment and seize every opportunity I have to work even harder. And maybe who knows, the stars may align and the odds may be in my favor for the next one.  I’ll always keep my faith in God. 🙂


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2 Replies to “Appreciation post: My 5th SEA Games ended in a blink of an eye”

  1. Your 200IM was definitely a great swim. Things happens for a reason. The 0.3s that u missed is to tell u that your time is not up for retirement yet. Continue with your passion & swim for Singapore again in 2019. My young swimmers are looking up to u. continue to inspire😉

    1. Hello Jennifer! Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I’ll definitely work harder and come back stronger in 2019. 🙂 I’m guessing that you’re a Swimming coach? Glad I was able to inspire your young swimmers. Cheers!

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