The key to a good race starts from the mind

“We create the perfect moment for ourselves” – Coach Sergio Lopez Miro

It’s been half a year since I joined the National team and I’ve honestly mature a lot as a swimmer and person under the care of Coach Sergio and Gary.

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I could still remember a conversation I had with him earlier this year and there are some things that he said which we all can learn from.

“Pang, no matter how hard things may be, you have to start believing in yourself; because that’s when you will start seeing great performances.”

“I can always set a goal time for you in swimming, but if you don’t believe that you can achieve it, then you won’t.” 

“You may even say ‘HEY! This coach is crazy, he wants me to go an insane time!’ and it may even put pressure on you.” 

“Instead, what I want you to do – tell me any goal time which you wish to do, and I mean any! And we’ll work together towards achieving it. But most importantly, you have to first believe that you can do it. Trust me, you will seriously be amazed by what your mind can do.”

Often a times we mentally limit our abilities when a big race comes; well, at least for me, and I honestly think that that is something that we all can change. We have to learn to shut out all self doubt and start believing in ourselves. Because if we truly believe in ourselves, nothing will stop us from achieving our goals. 

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Being stagnant for 4 years in my swimming career, I’ve realized that the reason for my stagnant performance was mostly mental – I tend to doubt my capabilities every time a big race came. It was only until I moved to NTC where Coach Sergio and Gary knew the root of my bad performances and started working more on my mental strength every single training session; that was when I finally got out of the slump which I was in.

So always remember that your greatest enemy, ironically, is yourself. Therefore, we have to learn to believe in ourselves more. Know deep down that as long as we’ve worked hard, and we feel stronger than the day we were before, great performances will follow up naturally.

We can’t expect to be feeling good in every competition, but always remember that no matter how hard our circumstances may be, we will still have to create that perfect moment for ourselves.

So to end off this blog post here’s a great takeaway message for everyone of you:

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The key to great performances starts from the mind, so start believing!

 

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Fun facts of each swimmer in the National training squad

IMG_5151Photo:
(Back Row): Lukas, Coach Sergio, Kenneth, Chris, Dylan, Fang Yi, Ting Wen, Harley, Roanne, Samuel, Zheng Wen, Russell, Francis 
(Middle Row): Michael, Danny, Zhen Ren, Sheng Jun, Chloe, Rachel, Cheryl, Marina, Kevin, Brilliant, Celine, Jing Wen, Coach Gary 
(Front Row): Nicholle, Cherlyn, Natasha, Elizabeth 

As I’ve mentioned from my previous post, besides training REALLY hard, the National training squad loves to have fun as well! To get to know us better, here are some fun facts about each of us, some of which are submitted by our friends:

sergioName: Sergio Lopez Miro (Head Coach)
Also known as: Serg
Fun Fact: Sergio is getting his Certification as a level 3 Tai Chi Office Master
(… Wait what?)
sergio2This photo says it all.

garyName: Gary Tan (Assistant Coach)
Also known as: G
Fun Fact: If he weren’t a swimming coach, he would probably have a really successful career in singing. Don’t believe us? Hear his singing for yourself!

brandonName: Brandon Tan
Also known as: Brandy
Fun Fact: He likes Chinese food but hates Chinese (Subject)
(Fact submitted by Francis Fong)

brilliantName: Brilliant Chua
Also known as: Diaper Boy
Fun Fact: “Coach can I go to the toilet…”
(Fact submitted by Coach Sergio)  

celineName: Celine Mark
Also known as: Mark
Fun Fact: She loves math more than swimming. (First time a swimmer actually enjoys work more than swimming)

cherlynName: Cherlyn Yeoh
Also known as:  Pole
Fun Fact: She is too thin for anyone.
(Fact submitted by Nicholle Toh) 

cherylName: Cheryl Lim
Also known as: Cross-fit champion
Fun Fact: She’s a boss in using her phone in the recovery hot tub. She’s never in the tub without her phone and never once got it wet.
(Fact submitted by Ting wen) 

chloeName: Chloe Wang
Also known as: Wang Wang
Fun Fact: She’s generally afraid of balls. So it’s actually really brave of her to have the courage to do those medicine ball exercises.

chrisName: Christopher Cheong
Also known as: Groot
Fun Fact: He is a neat freak, everything must be clean before he sleeps every night
(Fact submitted by Zheng Wen)

FB_IMG_1422418292257Name: Danny Yeo
Also known as: Mr Sensitive
Fun Fact: He likes to pull his shorts up to his armpits when he does gym.
(Fact submitted by Teo Zhen Ren) 

dylanName: Dylan Koo
Also known as: Dylenia
Fun Fact: He loves One Direction Music
(Fact submitted by Samuel Khoo) 

elizabeth2Name: Elizabeth Lee
Also known as: Le Swogster
Fun Fact: She likes praying to medicine balls and floors (at least that is what she does during dryland sessions)
(Fact submitted by Natasha) 

francisName: Francis Fong
Also known as: Paco
Fun Fact: He is really tall, but pushes off each wall with less than 5m.
(Fact submitted by Brandon Tan) 

kennethName: Kenneth Lim
Also known as: Hairy Boy/ Duan Le
Fun Fact: You can’t touch his shoulders before a race.
(Fact submitted by Lionel Khoo) 

kevinName: Kevin Ong
Also known as: Mr. miss my event
Fun Fact: He has the maturity of a 25 year old.
(Fact submitted by Lukas Menkhoff) 

lionelName: Lionel Khoo
Also known as: C.O.D (Chicks over Di**s)/ Khoo Khoo Bird
Fun Fact: Guys, do not be too happy if he agrees to meet you, because if a girl asks him out after you, he’ll ditch you for her instead.
(Fact submitted by Kenneth Lim) 

fangyiName: Lim Fang Yi
Also known as: Fang/ Frangipani
Fun Fact: He does not speak more than 500 words a day.
(Fact submitted by Brilliant)

lukasName: Lukas Menkhoff
Also known as: Menkhoff
Fun Fact: He plays 5 musical instruments, they include: Piano, Guitar, Trumpet, Drums and Bass guitar.

marinaName: Marina Chan
Also known as: Machina
Fun Fact: She has the funniest sneeze in the team (hear it for yourself and you’ll agree)
(Fact submitted by Roanne) 

michaelName: Michael Yong
Also known as: Mike/ Z.K
Fun Fact: He likes to play World of Warcraft more than Dota.

1965660_908750465823695_7303232846014752737_oName: Natasha Ong
Also known as: Cookie Monster
Fun Fact: She hid in the toilet for an hour because she was afraid of a cat.
(Fact submitted by Elizabeth) 

10945911_908750695823672_2764249052810370027_oName: Nicholle Toh
Also known as: Poker Face
Fun Fact: She can’t seem to smile properly HAHA.
(Fact submitted by Cherlyn Yeoh)

pang sheng jun 2Name: Pang Sheng Jun
Also known as: Waffle boy/ PSJ/ Pang
Fun Fact: You LITERALLY can’t rub him the wrong way. If you touch him in an upward motion, he would not be able to tolerate it. He’ll need to push his skin back in a downward motion as “his skin works like a carpet.”
(Fact submitted by Russell) 

jingwenName: Quah Jing Wen
Also known as: Jing
Fun Fact: She loves to wear FBT shorts, especially her purple ones for almost every dry land session and she’s really flexible too
(Fact submitted by Rachel Tseng)

tingwenName: Quah Ting Wen
Also known as: Ting/ The Ting
Fun Fact: Even though she towers over most people, she actually has tiny hands and feet like a princess.
(Fact submitted by Cheryl Lim)

zhengwenName: Quah Zheng Wen
Also known as: Iron Nose
Fun Fact: He got hit in the nose by a medicine ball during dry land training but it didn’t break, that was how he earned his iron nose title.
(Fact submitted by Christopher Cheong) 

rachName: Rachel Tseng
Also known as: Tseng/ Rach/ Babutseng (LOL)
Fun Fact: She is constantly laughing 24/7, if you ever see her she’d be laughing. There would seriously be something wrong if she weren’t laughing.

roanneName: Roanne Ho
Also known as: Ro
Fun Fact: She’s either in the pool or the hot tub, you can’t find her anywhere else.
(Fact submitted by Marina)

russell ongName: Russell Ong
Also known as: Russ
Fun Fact: He’s a medicine ball magnet. Over the course of 2 weeks he’s been hit by medicine balls during dry land sessions, not sure why, but even medicine balls can’t resist him!
(Fact submitted by Sheng Jun) 

samuelName: Samuel Khoo
Also known as: Mr Overreact
Fun Fact: He hates it when people try to touch his hair.
(Fact submitted by Dylan Koo) 

teo zhen renName: Teo Zhen Ren
Also known as: Smurf/ Teowhale/ Arnold (Schwarzenegger)
Fun Fact: He has got the strongest ab game in Singapore since Primary 2
(Fact submitted by Danny Yeo)

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This post was contributed by everyone in the National training squad, no feelings were hurt in the making of this post. Hope you enjoyed reading it and got to know us better! 🙂

 

All profile photos were taken by Adrian Seetho, check out more of his amazing work here:

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Life of a swimmer in the National training squad

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We’re finally done with week 4 of our training at the National training squad and training is starting to get really intense. Well, for a picture proof, here’s how tired we really are:

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Here’s all of us maximizing our rest times even at the pool before the session starts, and yes, it was a really hard session that day.

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I honestly like the fact that we’re progressively increasing the intensity as the weeks go by, it has really allowed me to adapt to the new training program as I usually fall sick if the pace gets too fast for me.

So here’s an idea on how things are going at the National Training Center:

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10 new guys have joined us in the National training squad so we have a bigger team now. This means that we have more pacers to train with and push one another which is great. These guys have joined us 2 weeks ago and are slowly adapting to the new training regime as well.

I’m proud to say that the team is having a stronger bond as the weeks go by and to me, that is the key aspect to a successful team.

Clubs aside, we’re all one family now. 

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So back to our daily regime, Sergio’s really strict about having good time management. For example, we have to always be ready at the pool deck 5 minutes before the actual training time. This really trains our discipline because it’s already so hard to reach the pool at 5:30am sharp, and reaching 5 minutes earlier than usual just made things so much harder. Imagine being on deck at 5:25am, though it only means sleeping for 5 minutes less, it means A LOT to a swimmer. Every minute of sleep is precious to a swimmer, especially when it’s so early in the morning.

Also, when Sergio says go when the clock hits 0, you better go when the clock hits 0 or you’ll see the bad side of him. He can be really cheerful and motivational but when it comes to discipline, you wouldn’t wanna see the bad side of him. So sometimes even when I’m not done wearing my cap I’ll just dive in first, and adjust my cap after I’m done with the warm up. (which explains the photo above) I’d rather warm up with a badly worn cap than see the bad side of Serg HAHA.

Overall, that’s a good thing because if discipline is kept in place at all times, nobody would dare to swim sloppily even when they are tired.

But hold your horses, before you think that it’s scary training at the National training squad, it actually isn’t at all. There’s always a bad side to each person, but that is done to ensure that discipline is in order at all times.

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How often do you see swimmers laughing when a coach explains a main set to them? Never.

This photo was taken when Sergio was explaining the main set to us, and all of us started laughing though it was a really hard set. He has a way to cheer us up when when a super tough set awaits us, and that has really motivated me to push on and not give up before the set even starts.

I can’t exactly remember what happened, but I just know that he made a really tough main set sound easy, but of course it wasn’t easy to complete AT ALL – but we nailed it in style. 

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For the coaching aspect, Sergio will be consistently whistling during the main set to spur us on when we get tired, and his whistles are REALLY LOUD – loud to the point that you can even hear him whistling when your head is underwater. The whistles really work when we’re tired, especially during the last 25m of the set, which matters most during a race.

On the other hand Gary will be constantly motivating us during the main set. He always has a way to motivate everyone when we get tired, and he motivates each and every swimmer differently as we all respond well to different ways of motivation and Gary knows it.

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And of course, they congratulate us all when we nail the set, which we do most of the time.

The combination of these 2 coaches make the National squad an excellent environment to train in, and I’m sure that the other swimmers feel the same way as well.

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Sweat, sore muscles and tired faces from the countless hours in the pool – that’s the amount of sacrifice that each swimmer is going through gearing towards the 2015 SEA Games.

For what’s worth, I’d rather have a bucket of sweat than to shed a tear during the SEA Games.

All the hard work will definitely pay off when the time comes.

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We don’t know what the future holds, but whatever the results may be, I’m just glad to be part of this awesome team.

 

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank Adrian Seetho for capturing these wonderful milestones of our swimming career! It wouldn’t have been such a clear illustration of our lives at the National training squad without these pictures, so I’m really glad he took it for us.

You can check out more of his photography here:

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Second week of training with the National Training Squad

We’ve finally hit mid week of training in the National training center and things are gradually getting harder as the week progresses. We’re starting to increase the volume and intensity a little and it’s really different from what we usually do. There’s a lot of emphasis placed in training our lung capacity and kicking, which I think is really beneficial to all of us.

Honestly, the thing I hate most about swimming training is kicking, and it also happens to be my worst aspect as a swimmer. But you’re only as strong as your weakest link, so it’s good that there’s a lot more emphasis on kick now.

I’m always ready for a good kick set during training. Rather be sore now than sorry when the competition comes!

Anyway, as promised, here’s a group photo of our whole team:

singapore swimming national training squad

Top row (left to right): Chris Cheong, Ting Wen, Jing Wen, Chloe, Cheryl, Roanne, Rachel, Zhen Ren, Marina 
Bottom row (left to right): Coach Gary, Zheng Wen, Brilliant, Samuel, Cherlyn, Nicholle, Dylan, Danny, Russell, myself and Coach Sergio 

Realized that Marina is still in her cap and goggles? She actually had commitments in school so she couldn’t come on time for training. The coaches actually stayed back to train her after taking this photo – That’s dedication right there.

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Here’s a funny photo that we took apart from the serious one. This one’s my personal favorite haha.

We kinda figured that this National Team (including coaches) have a lot in common: We love to have fun in whatever we do, including training of course. Training can get really tiring at times so it’s great to have coaches who are motivating and fun so that they can lighten the mood up a little when the going gets tough. Trust me, training is a lot more effective and efficient when you’re having fun!

Special thanks to Russell for bringing his camera and tripod to get this awesome team photo taken. Do note that we’re missing Francis in this group photo. If I’m not wrong he fell sick.

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On a side note, meet the Santa Claus in our team – Rachel Tseng. Hahaha she’s always bringing us good food she made from scratch for the team to enjoy. Look at these macaroons! It’s the first time I’ve ever seen such beautiful macaroons with all the cute cartoon faces, and they taste really good too so thanks Rach. 🙂

All in all, things are looking really great in the national team as we’re slowly adapting to the new team by getting to know each and everyone better. Our bond as a team is definitely getting much stronger than the week before and that to me is the most important aspect in a team.

“In union there is strength” – Aesop 

 

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First week of training done with the National Training Squad

I’m finally done with our first week of training in the OCBC Aquatic Center with the national team! It’s always been one of my dreams to be able to train together with the best swimmers in Singapore so it’s really a privilege to be able to train with these guys.

I’m sure many of you are wondering who our team consist of so here it is:

Guys – 

Brilliant Chua
Christopher Cheong
Danny Yeo
Dylan Koo
Francis Fong
Pang Sheng Jun
Quah Zheng Wen
Teo Zhen Ren
Russell Ong
Samuel Khoo 

Girls – 

Cherlyn
Cheryl Lim
Chloe Wang
Marina Chan
Nicholle Toh
Quah Jing Wen
Quah Ting Wen
Rachel Tseng
Roanne Ho

The first week of training was pretty much getting back into shape again as many of us just came back from our Christmas break and Sergio fully understands our situation.

He also said that he wanted to get to know each and everyone of us better so that he can plan training sessions accordingly to suit each individual, and since I took a semester off school… I guess I’ve no reason to skip any sessions. But I’m ready for any intensive training that is going to come my way.

russell ong danny yeo teo zhen ren quah zheng wen pang sheng jun christopher cheongA photo of the older guys post training
Back row: Danny, Zhen Ren, Me
Front row: Chris Cheong, Russell Ong, Zheng Wen

russell ong danny yeo teo zhen ren quah zheng wen pang sheng jun christopher cheong1

As the saying goes… Boys will be boys. Here’s a photo of us playing in the showers despite being tired after our training. Sometimes I really wonder where we get our energy from… haha

russell ong danny yeo teo zhen ren quah zheng wen pang sheng jun christopher cheong2

And finally a serious photo of the older guys training in the national training squad. Russ likes to call it “The Men of Singapore Swimming.

 

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With all that said, I really like the group dynamics now as the team consist of passion driven and motivated individuals, and I’m sure this would make the difference when the tough times come. I’m confident that coach Sergio and Gary can really take Singapore Swimming to the next level with their passion and experience.

Everything is looking good gearing up towards the 2015 SEA Games. Let’s go team!

P.S. Sorry we haven’t officially taken a group photo yet, once we have, I’d be sure to upload it as well 🙂 

Stay tuned for more updates!

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How I felt during my break from swimming

As you all know I took a whole week off swimming to serve as a Christmas break for a year of hard work. It was indeed a well needed break as I was really burnt out and fatigue after 10 weeks of high intensity training leading up to Nationals.

I was very much looking forward to the week off as I could finally catch up with my friends and recover from all the high intensity sessions. But what happened that week was rather unexpected, and here’s why:

 

1) Too much time on my hands

There was literally so much free time during my week off that I kinda felt like I lost my direction and drive in life. My motivation to do things was gone as it could always wait until later.

I did manage to catch up with my friends after a long time but even after that there was still so much free time and I just didn’t know what to do with it.

During my days of training I was always in a rush for time. I had specific things to do at specific times in order to fit my training schedule and everything was fast paced.

In contrast, everything felt super slow during my week off and I just didn’t like it. I know some people like a relaxed and slow life; which is a good thing, but I’m just not one of them. It made me feel super lazy and inefficient as I always waited until the last minute to get things done.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy my break, it was just that I kinda felt like I was really inefficient and unproductive that rest week which made me feel really guilty.

I’ve led a fast pace life for 16 years so I guess I wasn’t really used to such a drastic change in my life that week, but I’m glad I was able to catch up with my family and friends. 🙂

 

2) Lack of discipline

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There was really a lack of discipline when it came to food during my off week.

Potato chips and sweets were my best friends for that week. I was CONSTANTLY snacking on chips and sweets every hour and it was MAD. They just tasted so good after months of abstinence from these goodies. Here’s an idea of what I’ve eaten which further proves my lack of discipline:

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Oh by the way these Green Tea Cupcakes were made by my very own sister!!! They taste really good. This is why I told her not to bake me anymore goodies from now on as I’d really turn fat if she were to keep being this nice hahaha.

Anyway it does make me feel a little sick seeing the amount of sweet stuff I’ve eaten, but that’s probably the downside of having a sweet tooth.

 

3) Irregular sleeping hours

Instead of the usual 10:30pm – 04:50am sleeping hours, it became… sleeping whenever I wanted to waking up whenever I want.

I would sleep at 2am at night and wake up at 12pm the next morning, only to feel really grumpy and tired upon waking up, which isn’t a good thing as I’m usually really fresh when I’m up. These irregular sleeping times really made me feel lethargic and lazy.

But to be honest it is REALLY REALLY HARD to still sleep at 10:30pm with all your friends calling you to join them in a Dota game knowing that you have nothing on the next day haha.

But note to self: No more late nights leading up to the 2015 SEA Games, that’s for sure. 

 

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To sum it up, even national athletes like us are only human, and we sometimes fall into the temptations that life throws at us. But though I felt really lazy, inefficient and unproductive during my week off, but it was a well needed break and I’m glad to be back in the pool.

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*Just an update*

I’m training with a new group of guys now ever since the new national team has been announced. 20 of us are training with Coach Sergio Lopez now (who is Joseph Schooling’s coach) with the assistance of coach Gary Tan.

Some of the guys that I train with also went over to the national training squad (Russell, Zhen Ren, Zheng Wen, Dylan and Francis to just name a few) so it’s really good that we’re still in this together.

Now that I took a semester off school, I’d be sure to update my blog more often so be prepared to see more updates of our new National Training Squad in my next blog post! 🙂

 

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