The season has finally come to an end. Looking forward to create greater moments

The hectic season has finally come to and end and I’m glad to say that we all have had a wonderful season this year and I hope to be able to achieve greater heights for next year! Everything seems to be going smooth for me and I’m sure that as long as I keep my spirits up, I’ll be able to swim well.

Sorry for not blogging for about 3 weeks now; I was away for a training camp in Croatia followed by the FINA World Swimming Championships in Kazan during this period of time and I didn’t bring my laptop along so blogging was practically impossible.

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Competing in the FINA World Swimming Championships was a great experience for me, the stadiums were really packed during the swimming finals (which is about 10,000) people watching the swimming competition. The crowd went crazy every time a Russian swimmers name was called and it was really nice just to be able to absorb the atmosphere in first hand.

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… Well this was me trying to have a little fun during break time.

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Compared to Croatia, the weather here was really inconsistent – you’ll see us in Parkas for a minute, and wearing shirts and shorts for the next because the fluctuation in temperature is just too drastic.

My goal for the FINA World Swimming Championships was really to get as much experience as possible racing with the best in the world and I’m glad I was able to learn a few lessons. Sergio told us that we already had a great season so he just wanted us to do our best in World Champs.

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I think the most memorable thing that happened in this Worlds was Joseph Schooling winning a medal! The feeling of experiencing his win first hand was just amazing. History was made in 51 seconds and I’m just glad to be able to experience it first hand. It definitely inspired me to aim high and work towards my goals. Like what Sergio said, anything is achievable as long as we believe in ourselves. Even if people may think that our goals are crazy, nothing can stop us as long as we put our mind to it, and Joseph has proved it by making history for Singapore.

Just to summarize my trip, here are some of the photos which we took in the course of 3 weeks (photo credits to Uncle Peter for most photos):

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Overall, the World Championships was a really good learning experience for me and it would definitely help me in my preparation to qualify for the Rio Olympics next year! As long as I give the best I can in my preparation, I’ll have no regrets whether I make it or not. To qualify for the Olympics was always my lifetime dream ever since I was a kid, and since my season has been going really smooth so far, I hope that I will be able to keep up the good form and continue to improve even more during the upcoming Olympic trials. It will be hard, but no matter what I’m going to give it my all towards achieving my life time goal. I’m much tougher mentally now, and I’m sure that will help me during the most fatigue days of my preparation.

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But with all that said, it’s time to relax for now as Sergio has given us a break until September 1st, in which I shall take this opportunity to relax my mind and body before commencing on the next phase of mental and physical grinding again.

It has been a really tiring season for me with 6 months full of competitions, but nonetheless it has also been the best season that I’ve ever had in my lifetime so I hope that it will continue to be an upward slope for the next phase of my preparation.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone (From parents, coaches, sport science staff, the support team, fans) for your support over the course of my season. Everything wouldn’t have been possible without your support! I shall not name names as the list would be endless but I’m sure you know who you are. 🙂

I’ll be updating my progress with regards to my preparation so wish me luck! 🙂

 

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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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My post SEA Games 2015 Experience – Hard work has paid off

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With a blink of an eye, the 2015 SEA Games is over. I’m really having withdrawal symptoms now and I can’t believe that everything just flew by so quickly. It kinda feels like it was just yesterday that I was still 30 days away from SEA Games. Overall, competing in the 28th SEA Games in Singapore is by far the best competition experience of my life, and if I could turn back time, I would want to relive this moment again for sure.

The Singapore swimming team won a total of 23 Gold medals, surpassing the record of 21 Gold medals set many many years ago, and I feel really privilege to be part of this awesome team. This was by far the tightest team that I’ve been on and everyone has always had each others backs during the games, and that made a lot difference especially during the later days of the games when all of us were getting tired.

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I personally performed at my best during the 28th SEA Games, but I can honestly say that it wasn’t solely because my own hard work. I’ll have to credit my success to the endless amount of support from family, coaches, friends, supporters and sponsors. They were the ones that gave me the extra motivation to strive for greater results, and I couldn’t thank them enough.

I ended off my SEA Games with 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal – which is why some of my friends call me the rainbow boy. After 4 SEA Games, I was finally able to clinch an individual Silver and Bronze medal for Singapore. However, it’s not the medals that I will remember in the future, it’s the process of getting those medals which really mean a lot to me. To be honest, winning those medals were exceptionally hard for me because I had mental obstacles coming into this SEA Games – Being into 3 editions of the SEA Games, I’ve never won an individual medal at all, so I’ve kinda set mental obstacles that winning an individual medal was practically impossible for me.

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Thankfully, with the help of my coaches, parents and supporters, I was able to get out of that mental state and win individual medals for Singapore after 6 years of trying. You can read about my story on Yahoo news over here: Pang Sheng Jun ends wait for first individual SEA Games swimming medal

Of course, the process wasn’t easy, it took me quite a lot of courage and effort to get out of the ‘slump’ which I was in, and I am glad that I had a strong support group to get me out of my negative state.

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Coach Sergio knew that I was mentally weak due to my past experiences, so he had ways to help tackle my mental obstacles, he says that it’s ‘training me to become a man’. Here’s one of the most memorable experience I had during my training session:

“Alright guys, 6x100m warm down and we’re done. We leave on the top.” 

All of us put our goggles on and prepared to go.

“Not you, Pang, you stay right here.” 
“For you, 5x400IM on 5:45, you leave on the next top.” 

I started laughing because of how ridiculous it sounded.

“You think I’m joking? You’re leaving on the next top.” 

I laughed more because I still didn’t believe him.

“30 seconds…” 
“… WTF Sergio are you serious?!” At this point in time, I wasn’t smiling anymore.
“Yes of course, I told you I wasn’t joking, 10 more seconds…” 

I had no choice but to put my game phase on and start on my 5x400m set.

“Pang you done?” 
“…Yes” I was panting heavily after the set.

“Ok, 200IM all out, we’re leaving on the top, you have a minute rest.” 

I was dreading the set as I was already exhausted, but at that point of time I was too tired to even talk anymore so I just put my head down and gone for my 200IM all out.

Well guess what? I did pretty well in that all out effort. It was actually a personal best time for training and I just couldn’t believe what just happened. I even double checked the pace clock to see if Sergio was lying to me, but he wasn’t. It’s true that I actually set a personal best training time, and that was an amazing feeling.

This set really made me believe in what my body is truly capable of and it gave me so much more confidence for the SEA Games.

“Sergio, thank you so much for giving this set to me, though it was tiring, it was definitely worth it. I feel a lot more confident now, I know I’m capable of much more.”

“No worries Pang, you may think I’m picking on you, but I’m not. Trust me, I like you as a person, but I’m training you to become a man.” He winked at me.

So you can roughly imagine the training I was going through leading up to the SEA Games, and with that, I became a much tougher and confident person entering the games.

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The Games started off well when we won comfortably in the 4x200m Freestyle relay, whereby I teamed up with Joseph Schooling, Danny and Zheng Wen to win a Gold medal for Singapore. It definitely gave me a huge confidence boost after winning the Gold medal, but that still didn’t remove the fear of not winning in my individual event.

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The next event was the 400m Individual Medley, and if you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that that is the event which I dread most as the 400m IM is probably the most physically demanding event for any swimmer. We didn’t have to swim heats in the morning as it was straight finals, but I still went to warm up in the morning to prepare for finals which was in the evening.

I dived into the pool and I kid you not – I was feeling like a rock in the pool. It was legitimately the worse day of my swimming career and I just couldn’t feel my strokes properly. I didn’t know what I did wrong because I slept well the night before my race, and I basically did everything I could to be in the best shape but it didn’t seem to be working. At this point of time I got really desperate as nothing seemed to be going my way, so I did something which was really stupid – I got up on the blocks, dived, and did a 400IM for time.

My experience? I touched the wall with a time of 5 minutes 2 seconds (5:02) and I was exhausted. To give you an idea on how bad 5:02 is, I have a personal best time of 4:28 and I could easily hold 5×400 IMs on 5:02s on a good day, so you can imagine the amount of stress I was feeling at that point of time, I just couldn’t believe how much of a low my body was hitting.

I came up to the pool and told coach Gary about my situation.

“What should I do G? (Gary) I feel like shit, should I do some core? What do I do to get my form back? I am honestly lost now.”

Gary just told me to relax, warm down and get out of the pool.

I got out of the pool and went back up to the spectator stands. When Coach Sergio saw me, he immediately told me to see him.

“Pang, why the hell did you do a 400IM for time for? Did I ever tell you to do something like that before?”

“No coach… But I just wanted to get my water feel back.”

“And what, you think a 400IM for time is going to get you your feel back?! Why are you doing this?”

I then explained to him that I’ve never performed well in an individual event for SEA Games before, and I just couldn’t see myself doing it in the finals.

“You know what? If I could knee you right now, I would, but I don’t want to injure you before finals tonight. Let me tell you this, you are going to swim well in the finals tonight and you’re going to go below 4:25. If you don’t, I’m going to kick your a**, trust me.”

To go below 4:25 was more than 3 seconds of my personal best time, that was pretty hard to believe at that point in time.

“How many 400IMs have you done in training before? Doing a 200m IM all out for time and setting a personal best, did you feel like shit that time as well? You were still able to step it up isn’t it? So how is this 400IM different?” 

“You have to believe in yourself, stay the course, and do your best. Trust me you’re going to achieve great results.” 

After his lecture, it reminded me of the tough times I had during training and that gave me my confidence back for the finals.

“Sorry about that Sergio, you’ll watch me do well tonight.”

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The finals came and when my name was called, the stadium echoed with cheers that were for me. At that very moment, I felt a strong sense of National pride. All the negative thoughts just left my mind and all I wanted to do was to do all my fellow Singaporeans proud. With that amount of support that I was having, I just couldn’t let them down. This is our pool, our home, and I’m not giving up at the very last moment before my race.

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When I was swimming my finals, I could literally hear the stadium cheering for Zheng Wen and I. In my whole swimming career, I have never heard such loud cheers when I was swimming. Swimmers usually aren’t able to hear the cheers coming from the crowd as the sound of waves usually blocks any sound that is coming from the surroundings, but during my 400m race, the cheers from the crowd was so loud that I could even hear them when I was swimming in the water. That definitely gave me the edge when I was at the final stages of my race. Just to emphasize on how much of a difference it made, I had a strong surge of adrenaline coming into the last 100m of my race:

Your cheers really made the difference when it came to this race, and I’m glad that I was able to win my first individual medal after 6 years of training.

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Words can’t describe how I was feeling at this point in time, it was a strong mix of emotions – I was relieved that I finally won an individual medal for Singapore, and with the scoreboard showing “2nd place” beside my name, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. Not only that, I touched with a time of 4:24.81, which was the time that Coach Sergio predicted I would go, the feeling was just surreal.

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To touch 1st and 2nd for Singapore was a dream that Zheng Wen and I had coming into this SEA Games, and to be able to achieve our dream meant a lot to me. It was a pretty awesome feeling.

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With that, my curse of no individual medals for 6 years was broken, and I carried on with that confidence to win another bronze medal for Singapore in the 400m Freestyle.

I could feel the amount of happiness that my parents and sisters were feeling after my races and that really made my whole SEA Games experience worthwhile. Ever since young, I’ve always strive to do my parents proud in whatever I do and seeing their happy faces makes me happy too. They’ve been through the tough times with me and I’m glad that they never gave up hope on me. I wouldn’t have been where I am today without their support.

This concludes my 2015 SEA Games experience. Great memories have been forged in this meet and it will definitely be remembered for a lifetime. I must say that I have dreaded the lectures and tough sessions from Coach Sergio and Gary at first, but I’m happy to say that all of it has finally paid off. I’ve mature a lot as a swimmer and person and I’m grateful for those who believed in me.

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I hope my experience will inspire anyone whose going through a tough phase in your life. Anything is possible as long as we believe in ourselves. Always remember that no matter how hard or low your life may be, God always has a plan for you and everything happens for a reason. You have to believe in the process and stay the course. My swimming career wasn’t a smooth sail but I’m glad that I pulled through the tough times. Trust me, all the pain and hard work was worth it.

For those who never gave up in me, thank you so much.

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To Adrian Seetho
Thank you for being there for us throughout the whole of SEA Games to capture all these wonderful memories. Every photo holds a significant meaning to me and I’m glad that you were able to capture them so that these moments will never be forgotten. 

 

Link to my races: 
Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay 
Men’s 400m Individual Medley
Men’s 400m Freestyle

Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay Victory Ceremony
Men’s 400m Individual Medley Victory Ceremony
Men’s 400m Freestyle Victory Ceremony

 

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3 swimming competitions in a row, an experience of a lifetime

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I know I haven’t been consistent with blogging recently, but that was because I had 3 competitions back to back for the first time in my life! First it was the Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships, the National training squad then flew to Spain for the Spanish Open, and after Spanish Open 4 of us flew over to Arizona for the Mesa Grand Prix. To be honest, it is by far one of the most mentally and physically strenuous regimes that I’ve been through, but it was definitely an experience of a life time.

The key of these back to back competitions was to try and create the perfect moment and race even when our body feels sore and tired, which is really demanding for any swimmer. Despite that, some of us were still be able to finish with personal best times which really goes to show that you’ll be able to do well as long as you trust yourself!

To add on to the already tough regime, Sergio entered me in 7 events in total during Spanish Open and Mesa Grand Prix, which is more than what I usually swim in a competition. 7 events in 4 days was really no joke, and they happen to be really hard events as well! Just to give you an idea, in a span of 4 days, I swam the 100m Freestyle, 200m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle, 800m Freestyle, 1500m Freestyle, 200m Individual Medley, and 400m Individual medley.

All these events in 4 days, it was mad. I usually swim up to a maximum of 4 events in a competition, but according to Coach Sergio he wanted to “train me to become a man” which worked out pretty well as I’m mentally a lot tougher now which is a good lead up to the upcoming SEA Games in Singapore.

All of us were all drained by the time the competition ended, but we definitely became a lot tougher as a team and individuals. We’ve learnt no matter how tired we may be, we can still step it up when race day comes.

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Swimming aside, our hotel was located just right beside the beach! I had a really peaceful view from my room. I spent most of my evenings at the beach as it was really relaxing and it helped me to ease the stress I had from all the racing that was going on. Of course, since we were so close to the beach, I decided to seize the opportunity to snap some photos! So yeah, going to share some of my favorite shots with you all 🙂

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Also, here are 2 of my favorite photos:

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Cherlyn capturing the moon – Took me many shots to be able to capture this!

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Another shot whereby we were suppose to catch the plane, and this was what happened. After looking at this photo, I guess it’s better if we stick to swimming.

This pretty much sums up Spain, and a week after 4 of us went to Arizona. Arizona was like a desert, it was really dry and all of us had cracked skins and dry throats when we were competing, which made it really hard for all of us factoring in that it was already our 3rd competition. To add on to the already tough climatic conditions, I had to swim the same 7 distance events again, no chance was given to me, I guess that is the price to pay if I want to be a man.

Nonetheless, it was a great experience to be able to see Phelps and Lochte race each other and learn from them.

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I’ll have to thank Zhen Ren for helping me capture this photo with Ryan Lochte! Really happy that I was able to grab a photo with one of the greatest Olympian of all time. This photo was taken straight after his race, and he was still panting when this photo was taken so you can say that he’s effortlessly photogenic.

On a side note, we were really lucky to have a fellow Singaporean family (whose kids are swimmers too) to host us during our stay over there! We went to their house for dinner before the competition started. I’ve learnt an important life lesson during my stay at their house, and I’ll share it with you all a story that Steve (guy on the right) told me.

As an athlete, you’ll always have self doubts about yourself, so often a times you worry about whether you’ll be able to achieve the goals you set yourself out for, but sometimes, it’s about living life until there is a ‘point of no return’, that way, you’ll be able to chase your dreams without anything holding you back.

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So here’s the story:

There was a time whereby Army B tried to invade Army A’s land. Army A was clearly outnumber in resources and manpower. Unconvinced that they could win the war, Army A were thinking of giving up their land and retreating away in the ships they prepared. 

“Burn the ships, we are not going anywhere. This is where we belong.” The General of Army A commanded. 

So with the ships burnt, there were 2 choices left for Army A – To die, or to win the war, because there was no way to escape anymore. So with that do or die mentality, Army A went on and won the war. 

Always remember, when chasing your dreams, don’t think of the what ifs. (What if I don’t make it, will there be a way out? What is my backup plan? Do I give up and take the safe route out?) Because by doing that, you are already setting yourself up for failure. Think of it as a one way street, and take a step at a time, don’t give yourself an excuse to fail, and chase your dreams wholeheartedly. If we all had the do or die mindset, we will be able to reach our goals. I’ll always keep this story in mind every time I have self doubts about myself.

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To sum up this month’s worth of training and competitions, I’m glad to say that I’ve learnt a lot from these experiences, physically and mentally. To be able to learn from the best in the world, that is really an experience of a lifetime.

With 37 days to go with the SEA Games in Singapore, I’m really motivated to keep training hard and hope all the hard work will pay off when the SEA Games starts.

Off to the final stretch of training now!

 

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There are no perfect moments, we create the perfect moment for ourselves

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It’s been a tough week and SNAG has finally came to an end. There were people who qualified for SEA Games, and there were people who missed, definitely a lot of mixed feelings during this meet but I’ll get to that in my next blog post.

I was really excited coming to this SNAG as my preparation for it was great. I guess there was a lot of pressure being placed on the National training squad and people were expecting instant results, but honestly speaking it’s really hard to see a drastic difference in just 10 weeks of training, we’re all human after all. But what matters most is each and everyone of us swam our hearts out during the meet, and that was all that Sergio wanted.

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I had a rough start during SNAG when I failed to do a personal best time in the 200m Freestyle, it kinda shocked me a little as I had really solid training leading up to it, but you know that’s the nature of swimming – A stroke too early and you don’t quite make it, so everything has to be perfect in order for a good race. However, SNAG was a 6 day competition so I believed that things will get better as the days go by so I moved on quickly from the first race.

Then came the 100m Freestyle, which I did a personal best time in, but it still wasn’t as well as I expected it to be. At this point of time I started to have a little bit of self doubt – Did something go wrong in my preparation? Is this meet over for me? Should I just give up now? 

It’s common for a swimmer to have self doubt, especially when you’re experiencing bad performances. You start to wonder if you’re really that great a swimmer, and tend to doubt yourself on whether you’re still going to race well that meet.

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At this point of time, I can honestly say that I was on the verge of giving up, but a thought suddenly came to my mind – During our taper week, Sergio always emphasized to us that in swimming, there is never a perfect race. We don’t always have to be at perfect form to be able to do well. Think about it, when you did your personal best time, was everything perfect on that day? Honestly, I bet you can’t remember, you just remembered that everything went well that day. So as long as we believe in ourselves, everything is possible.

There are no perfect moments, we create the perfect moment for ourselves. 

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A conversation I had with Sergio before my race – I told him that I was going to create a perfect moment in my race today, despite not feeling at my best.

“Go for it, Pang.”  We both started laughing.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect before the race, but I just kept a positive mindset and believe that I was still able to create the perfect moment for myself.

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With that mindset, I went on to race my last 2 races.

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Things took a turn after I started believing in myself more. Even though I felt really tired before the 400m Individual Medley, I psyched myself up to believe that anything is possible as long as I believed in myself. Sure enough, I did a personal best time in the 400m Individual Medley, and words cannot describe how happy I was. It wasn’t just any personal best time, I’ve never done a personal best time in this event in 5 years! So to be able to achieve a personal best time despite not being at my greatest really proved that our body can really achieve what our mind believes. It was a pretty amazing feeling.

CD7P0947With that same mindset and confidence I went on to compete in the 400m Freestyle 2 days later. Though I didn’t do a personal best time, I’ve done the best I could and that was enough for me.

From this SNAG I’ve learnt that in swimming competitions, it’s not about waiting for the perfect race to come, because it will never happen; rather, it’s about creating the perfect race, because we can’t expect our bodies to always be in tip top condition during every competition. So it’s about believing and trusting in ourselves.

But of course that doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want to do leading up to the competition. Things like sleeping early, getting a balanced diet and visualization are still key elements that contribute to a perfect race.

For the coming SEA Games in Singapore, I’ll be competing in the 400m Invididual Medley, 400m Freestyle and 4x200m Freestyle Relay. Hope everything goes smoothly and I’ll be able to create more perfect moments there.

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers, sponsors, sport science staff, photographers and supporters for making this meet a successful one. This was definitely the greatest SNAG experience I’ve ever had.

It’s the first time that we actually have a commentator commentating on all our races which makes it more intense compared to previous years. Also, there was price money given when meet/national records are broken, which really motivated swimmers to swim harder to beat those records.

With the help of sport science staff, we were also able to maintain proper nutrition, check our blood lactate levels, have massages, ice/hot baths after our races which really sped up our recovery process, especially when it was a 6 day competition.

Shoutout to Adrian Seetho, Nicholas Wan and Red Sports for capturing all these wonderful moments of my races.

Lastly, I would like to thank those who cheered me on during my races! You know who you are and I’m really grateful for that. It really did help me calm down and gave me really good vibes before my races and that’s what swimming should be all about!

With all that said, I’m really thankful for the support that was given to us and I hope it will continue in the future. Swimming is progressively growing in Singapore and I’m really excited to see where Singapore swimmers will be in the following years to come.

 

Next stop – Spain! 

 

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Tips to prepare yourself well before a big meet

Rest is equally as important as training 

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The key aspect in performing well during competition is to get as much rest as you can a week before the big meet. That is also why coaches give their swimmers more sleep in sessions instead of training. However, that doesn’t mean that you can sleep late and wake up late as that would in turn mess your body clock up which is actually worse than waking up for training.

If you stick to your usual sleep cycles, you’ll feel super alert during the week of the big meet, so just try it 🙂

 

Avoid any last minute training

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When it’s time to rest, it is time to rest. The truth is, there is really nothing you can do now in training that can change the outcome of the competition. Worrying is normal, but sometimes you just have to learn to let it go and let your body recover properly for the competition instead of trying for some last minute hard work, because that would actually have a negative impact on your body.

You’ve put in a great amount of hard work leading up to the competition, so learn to trust yourself and trust your coach that you’ll do well when the big day comes.

 

Focus on the process and not the outcome 

Goals

Everyone wants the gold medal, but instead of focusing on the prize, you should all learn about the steps to getting the price, because it’s the baby steps that will get you to your goal.

An example would be in a 200m race, plan on:
– How you are going to swim each 50m
– How you wish to feel in the water on the day of your competition
– How many strokes you want to take per 50m
– Key things to look out for in the race (e.g. good dives, good turns, good breakouts, good finishes)

Things like these should all be well planned out a week before the meet so that when the race comes, we’ll be in autopilot mode and your body will be able to take over without your mind over thinking too much.

 

Visualization 

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As mentioned above, once you have a process goal in mind, it’s time to start visualizing about your race. Visualization should also be done a week before the big meet so that when the real meet comes, you’ll know exactly what to do and everything will go according to plan.

Everything going to plan = Less to worry about

 

Control the controllable, ignore the uncontrollable 

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Our focus and visualization should be centered only around ourselves, because that’s the only thing that we can control. Avoid thinking about how our competitors will race, the weather on that day, or the pool temperature because we can’t control these things therefore they’re irrelevant to our visualization.

We should just focus on our race plan, having a good nights’ sleep, and taking good care of ourselves.

 

Stop the negativity; Let it go and have fun

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As a swimmer, I’ve always had the tendency to focus on all the negative things that may happen during race day. Things like goggles filling up with water, having cramps, screwing my race plan up, and the list goes on and on… It’s normal to worry about things like these especially when you really want to have the perfect race.

However, having thoughts like these are actually slowing you down, so how do we get rid of them? Personally, I still have these thoughts in my mind, but it gets better through experience.

Over the years of my swimming career, I’ve came to the realization that during a big meet, it’s not about having the “perfect” race, because “perfect” doesn’t exist, there will always be something wrong on that day, so learn to let go, have fun, and stop focusing on trying to be perfect. All you have to do is to just swim your heart out and you’ll realize that you’ll be in a much relaxed state of mind and you’ll still be able to perform.

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If you’re still having negative thoughts, here’s a solution for you. We were having a team meeting the other day and what Coach Sergio said really inspired me.

“So what will happen if we all don’t do well in the competition?” 

There was complete silence.

“Nobody knows? Really?” 

Still silence.

“Exactly, nothing will happen if we don’t do well. We can all cry about the bad race for about 5 minutes, and we’ll move on from it. When the next day comes, we’ll all be ready to get into the pool, and start working our hearts out again. Nothing changes.” 

So why are we so afraid of failing? Swimming is a really long career, so one setback doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. We’ll learn from each setback and get back up stronger for the next competition. Setbacks are normal and it will motivate us to come back stronger in our next race, so don’t be afraid to fail.

 

I hope these tips can help you guys in the upcoming Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships in 2 weeks time! Swim your heart out and I’m sure that you guys will do well. Best of luck to everyone, remember to have fun! 🙂

 

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

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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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For Advertorials, Questions or Sponsorship: 

Contact: hello@pangshengjun.com

 

Hard Work Pays Off

 

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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.

singapore swimming national training squad 1

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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