Why having live telecast of the Olympics matter to us

 

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Photo Credit: Peter Soon

August 8, 2015 – Joseph Schooling just made history by winning Singapore’s first ever podium finish at the World Swimming Championships.

I clearly remembered how happy everyone was when we saw his name appearing on the scoreboard, and to top it off, it happened a day before SG50. Each and every Singaporean felt a sense of national pride as they experienced history together as Joseph was collecting his World Championships medal, and it was definitely a heart-warming moment for all of us.

I recalled the amount of anxiety we all had before Joseph’s race. As none of us qualified for the finals, Joseph was our only hope to fly our flag high during the World Championships. When the commentator called his name, we all screamed our lungs out as though we were the ones who were swimming the race, and you could see Joseph turning over to acknowledge our cheering efforts. Trust me, we were all pretty damn nervous for him as the level of competition in the World Championships are equivalent to the Olympics, and many of the big guns were in the same 100m Butterfly race.

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The race started and Joseph headed into the first 50m with a leading time of 23.53 seconds. At this point in time, there was even more adrenaline pumping through our veins as we knew that history was about to be made, all he needed to do was to just hang on for another 50m, and that would give him a Gold medal. Our cheers started getting louder as the race progressed as we really wanted him to hang on. The feeling was just surreal, seeing Singapore in the lead for the first time at a world stage.

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At the last 25m of the race, Chad Le Clos (South Africa) and Laslo Cseh (Hungary) started inching up on him, and at that point in time, the whole stadium became so loud due to the excitement, and you couldn’t even hear yourself when you were screaming. We couldn’t even tell who was leading at the last 10m of the race as everyone was just so bunched up together at the final moments of the race. I remember just screaming and shouting my heart out to support Joseph and hope that he brings home a medal for us.

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The race was over, and when we looked up, we saw a Singapore flag lighting up on Lane 1 on the live television screen. The feeling of excitement was so indescribable, knowing that we were able to experience history live as Joseph brought back home a medal for Singapore on a world stage. There was a surge of excitement, happiness, and relief at the same time, knowing that Singapore history was made, and we were all able to experience it together. It was such a memorable moment for each and every one of us and I’m sure that people at home felt the same feeling when they managed to catch Joseph’s race live on television.

Failing to qualify for the Olympics this year, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to watch Joseph swim live at the Rio Olympic pool. However, I would love to see history being made again when I watch him swim from home. It’s different when you’re watching repeated telecast, because you already know that the outcome is going to be. I don’t want to know the results beforehand before being able to watch him swim. Because that takes away the excitement factor in sport, the feeling of uncertainty during his race, whether he’ll be able to hold on and bring home the gold medal.

I like to live in the moment, and feel the huge surge of adrenaline rush again when I watch him race his 100m Butterfly, and celebrate together with him when history is made again. I’m pretty sure that everyone feels the same way as well.

Broadcasting the Olympic Games will definitely unite all Singaporeans together through sport and promote an active lifestyle in Singapore in the long run, as people are going to remember the great moments from the Olympic Games, reminisce, and talk about it in the many years to come.

Having repeated telecast is like someone spoiling a good movie for you by telling you how the movie is going to end, and it is definitely not a pleasant feeling as your whole movie experience will be spoilt, knowing how the movie will pan out.

However, I’m sure that with the advancement of technology, there will potentially be different online streams that broadcasts the Rio Olympics live. So if we really want to, we should still be able to watch the Olympics live. If there’s a will, there will be a way. 🙂

Coming from a swimmer’s perspective, it definitely feels better racing knowing that you have your country behind you all the way during your race. Because besides achieving your own goals, you’ll be doing it for the country as well.

So let’s all unite, and get behind our athletes as they do their best in the Olympics! I’m sure that it will spur them on to greater performances.

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“This is my home, where I grew up and where everything started. My friends and family are going to be there and I’m really excited to be racing in a home atmosphere for once.” An excerpt from Joseph Schoolings interview during the 2015 SEA Games.

All the best to you in your quest for the Olympics Joseph! The country is behind you, do us proud!

And to all the other athletes competing in Olympics, we’re all behind you! 

 

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Easy ways to keep yourself motivated towards your goals

Swimming for 17 years and counting, my passion for swimming is still going strong. There are times whereby people ask me “how do you still stay so motivated to train after so long?” So here are some things which keep me motivated to train everyday.

1) Always strive for improvement

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You can always strive to create the perfect moment in a race, but no matter how well you race, there will never be a perfect race. Lucky for me, my dad video tapes all my races and through watching my races, I will always look for the mistakes I made in the race and make sure I don’t make the same mistake in the next race again. It could be breathing the first stroke, sprinting too hard for the first 50m in a 400m race, or even pulling an extra stroke into the wall; these are the little things that will make a difference in a race. So every time after watching my videos after my race, it will motivate me to train harder again because there are always those little annoying mistakes that I make in the race which I would want to perfect in my next competition, and that keeps me going.

Look for the little mistakes you make in your best races and I’m sure you’ll be more motivated to train harder as you know that there is always room for improvement.

 

2) Picture your future self

I find this method most effective as you will always picture your future self as an awesome one after working hard, therefore that would motivate you to reach your goals. But I would like to emphasize that it’s not only picturing your future self, but writing it down as well. Don’t be afraid dream big, you may think that it sounds ridiculous to write it down, but trust me it will motivate you.

To give you a clearer idea on how it’s done, here’s what I did 6 months before the SEA Games (It’s a really simple one):

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This is cupboard above my work space which is right in front of my bed, it writes “4:24” and “Be SORE today or SORRY tomorrow.” In case you’re unsure, 4:24 is the goal time that I was aiming for my 400m Individual Medley. Looks really simple, right?

So every morning when my alarm rings at 4:45am, I’ll sit up to see my goals, and that keeps me motivated to get out of my comfy bed to dive in the cold water at 5:30am.

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True enough, SEA Games came and I managed to hit my goal time of 4:24, it felt really unreal, but it goes to show that writing your goals down really helps! 🙂

So start writing your goal down and paste it somewhere that is visible to you, and that will keep you motivated to work hard. Like I said, don’t be afraid to write it down, you’ll be amazed by the difference it can make.

 

3) Have an idol/inspiration

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Ever since young, my idol has been Michael Phelps. I still remember replaying the videos from ALL his races from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games + his interviews. He won 8 gold medals there and therefore every race was exciting, and I really learnt a lot from listening to his thought process through for all his races. So every night, I would spend about 1 hour before bed just to re-watch his races so that I could learn from how he raced and thought. Trust me, that really motivated me to work hard as I really admired his work ethic as an athlete and that made me work hard as well.

I have no idea why I didn’t get bored from watching his videos, but I learnt different lessons from watching the same video everyday.

 

4) Compete against yourself

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“The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than the day you were before.” 

The key to keeping yourself motivated is to strive to beat yourself, and beating your personal best, because that is something that we can control. We can’t control what our competitor does, so it’s best we focus on ourselves.

If you ever feel unmotivated to work one day, just know that even the simplest work out beats totally skipping a day of work. You may not be in your best shape but remember – It’s about being better than the day you were before, so just do your best and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment no matter what.

I have to admit, I have days whereby I just can’t move in the pool, everyone would win me no matter how hard I try, but for down days like these, I’ll always remind myself that even the worst workouts are better than not working out at all, so that keeps me going even on my lower days.

So always remember, it’s about self-improvement. As long as you compete against yourself, I’m sure that nothing can stop you from chasing your goals.

5) Hard work will pay off 

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A motto that I live by. Always remember that as long as we work hard towards our goals, it’s only a matter of time before we achieve them. So start believing in yourselves and work hard!

These are ways I use to keep myself motivated towards my goals, hope it helps you too!

 

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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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15 more days to the SEA Games; Singapore Swimming team is ready

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With just 15 days left to the SEA Games, I can confidently say that the Singapore swimming team has bonded really well together in the 3 staging camps that we had.

To be honest, it’s the first time whereby a team is so closely bonded together leading up to the SEA Games, and knowing that the team will always be behind us no matter what happens, we’ll definitely have the extra edge when race day comes.

It’s always been Coach Sergio and Gary’s goal to bond the team together as one. Why is this so? That is because a team effort will always be greater than individual effort, and working in a team allows us to put individual differences aside and focus on what is best for the team. Each and every individual has their own part to play into creating a successful team. Here’s an example:

We did the bucket challenge during one of our staging camps. This game was taught to us by our Psychologist Josh.

The main aim of the bucket challenge was for everyone to remove their shoes one by one in a circle without the bucket of water toppling over. The challenge is complete once everyone has got their shoes off. The hardest thing about this game was to ensure that the bucket of water didn’t topple over and that required teamwork. To ensure that we were well coordinated, we had the help of a leader which was giving us instructions from top view.

The rationale behind this game is really simple, the leader, who is giving us instructions, is like our coach. He is able to see things from top view and give us the proper guidance and instructions before our races, so all we have to do is to trust them as things are always seen clearer from the top. On the other hand, the rest of us who are in a circle are supposed to work together to ensure that we complete the challenge without dropping the bucket, and this wouldn’t be possible without teamwork.

As you can see from the team bonding activity that we were engaging in, if one person were to let their leg off the bucket, it would topple off for sure. This clearly illustrates the importance of teamwork – whereby everyone has a part to play into creating a great team, and at no point in time a person is slacking off as that would jeopardize the whole challenge.

As the saying goes, there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’ and through these activities we were able to learn the importance of teamwork.

But swimming is an individual sport, how do we help the other swimmers do well in their respective events? 

It’s really simple, when others are racing their hearts out, we will always be behind cheering them on during their races. Our competitors wouldn’t be swimming against an individual, rather, they will be swimming against Team Singapore for every race.

This is the one of many cheers that the Singapore Swimming team has done, it is titled ‘we will win the war’. Hope you guys like it! stay tuned for more cheers during the SEA Games. 🙂

Lastly, your support would mean a lot to us so do catch us live on television or at the pool from June 6-11! You guys can also play a part into strengthening our team. Your cheers will definitely be heard and I’m sure that it will motivate us during our toughest days. Lets all play our part into creating a strong Team Singapore!

 

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The reason why 400IM is the most painful event in swimming

After swimming for many years in my life, which includes a wide range of the most painful events like the 200m Freestyle and 1500m Freestyle, I came to a conclusion that 400m Individual Medley (IM) no doubt the beats those events in the level of pain experienced. There may be disagreements, but to me nothing is as hard as the 400IM. To let you understand the pain of a 400IM, I’ll run through a 400IM race with you from a swimmer’s perspective:

The individual medley starts off with the hardest stroke in swimming – Butterfly. Why does it have to start off with the hardest stroke? Because if Butterfly was to be kept at the last 100m of the race, I doubt anyone would want to race in the 400IM anymore.

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You’ll usually dive into the pool feeling fresh and light, and feel as though you’re floating above water surface, and everything seems really easy. However, that usually only last for 50m before you start to feel the burn on the second 50m.

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The second 50m is where you’ll start to feel the lactate in your arms and shoulders come out all at once, worse part is that it shows no mercy, everything starts to drag you down all of a sudden but you have no choice but to press on as there is just no stopping in a race.

So this pretty much sums up the Butterfly leg in an Individual Medley race, moving on to the backstroke leg…

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Imagine all that lactate you have from the Butterfly leg, it just won’t go away, so therefore, you’ll have to carry all that lactate you have accumulated from the Butterfly leg to the Backstroke leg, which really is a lot of pain. You still have to go hard during the Backstroke leg because if you don’t, people are just going to overtake you or chase you down.

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Moving on, the Breaststroke. At this point in time, you’ll feel like a dying whale, whereby your whole body just feels like it’s going to crash and burn and your vision has even blurred a little due to fatigue. To add on to how bad you are already feeling, Breaststroke is a stroke which demands a perfect technique, and if you don’t maintain your best technique, you are just not going to move. The worse part of Breaststroke is that adding stroke rate won’t equate to you going faster, so the only way to move faster is to maintain a perfect technique with your lactate accumulated arms and legs.

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Finally, the Freestyle, at this point of time, your lactate levels have already went off the charts but it doesn’t affect you anymore. You’ve reached a stage whereby you don’t care about the pain anymore as your body has already adapted to it and all you want to do is to win your competitor from the other lane.

Don’t get me wrong, you still feel a huge amount of pain, but being the last 100m of the race, it simply does not matter anymore because all you want to do is win.

To give you a clear idea on how the Freestyle leg feels, imagine being the bottom row of this pyramid whereby everyone is just resting their weight on your shoulders:

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But trust me, all that weight won’t matter as your will to win the race has already overpowered the pain that you are feeling.

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Whether you swim well in the race or not, there will always be a huge sense of accomplishment after completing a 400IM. With the amount of pain that you’re already in, you’ll just be glad that the race is over anyway.

 

With all that said, if 400IM is so painful, why do people still swim it?

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That’s because 400IM is a race whereby it trains you physically and mentally. After racing and training in the 400IM, you won’t be afraid to swim any other race because you know deep down that nothing comes close to being as hard and demanding as the 400IM. For me I personally hate days whereby coach tells me that I have to work on my 400IM on that day, but I know that it will be worth it.

So my challenge to those who are still currently swimming, if you find yourself being afraid of an event, enter yourself in the 400IM during another untapered swim meet, and I assure you that after swimming the 400IM, you won’t be afraid of swimming anything else.

This pretty much sums up the reason why 400IM is the most painful event in swimming.

 

What is the hardest event to you? Do leave a comment at the comment section below if you disagree with me!

 

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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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Forget about your bad races because everyday is a new day [ad]

I’ve always enjoyed watching inspirational videos during my free time, especially when a competition is around the corner. I know SNAG is over but I’d like to share a video which I hope will inspire you to train harder for the next coming competition:

I liked this video a lot as the key message of it is to forget about your bad races, because everyday is a new day, and a new chance for you to prove yourself. I know not everyone did well in this SNAG, but forget about that last bad race, and let’s start training hard for the next competition! I personally had my bad races too and this video has definitely motivated me to race harder when I’m in Spain.

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Never forget about those countless early mornings, the immense physical strain, constantly staring at the blue line at the bottom of the pool, sacrificing so much in hope of realizing that one goal, because believing in yourself is that one final step to seizing the moment.

Ultimately, victory is yours as long as you believe it. Don’t be afraid to dream and never let self doubt rule you out. Yesterday is gone, and today is up for grabs. No one owns today, so take it and let it be yours. Prove to yourself how great you are, never give up!

Adidas sponsors swimmers like Olympic Champions Ian Thorpe (Australia) and Ciecar Cielo Fielo (Brazil), which are inspirational athletes which I look up to. Ian Thorpe was an inspiration to me during my younger days of swimming and and his involvement and contribution to the sport has motivated me to do better. 

This post has been sponsored by adidas, but all thoughts(and/or) experiences are my own. / but concerns my own opinion. 

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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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Meet the Singapore Swimming Team at Kallang Wave Mall on Saturday 14 March

Hey guys!

There will be an official campaign launch of the Singapore Swimming Team this Saturday, 14th of March, at the Kallang Wave Mall Atrium! Our head coach Sergio has always wanted the Singapore Swimming team to have a team identity so we’ll be officially announcing our team identity during this event! Do drop by as I’m sure it will be a great event.

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Everyone from the various aquatic sports (swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronized swimming) will be there so feel free to mingle and chat with us! We’re really friendly so don’t worry. There will be photographers there so feel free to take photos with us as well!

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I personally feel that this event is a great opportunity to bond and bring us all closer together as one Singapore in preparation for the upcoming SEA Games.

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I’ve always wanted to know our supporters on a personal level so this event is really a great opportunity for us to thank you guys for all the support towards us!

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Athletes, officials or supporters, we will always be one Singapore. Each one of us can play our part to fly our flag up high.

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So yes, do save this date and show us your support by dropping by Kallang Wave Mall Atrium this Saturday at 12pm. We’ll create history this Saturday as we announce our Singapore Swimming identity so do come down to join us to experience this moment. We’ll see you there!

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