Life of a swimmer in the National training squad


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:


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.


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:


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. 


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.



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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Having the correct mindset is important for swimming

Hi Sheng Jun, you’re basically the reason why I continued swimming after 2 long years because your blog posts gives me motivation to start swimming once again 🙂 But right now I’m actually struggling since I just joined the development competitive team & I’ve been having second thoughts on backing out lately since I’m afraid that I can’t cope well with school & social life but at the same time, I don’t wish to stop swimming. what should I do? 🙁 

I’m about to give you my own life experience from my swimming career, hope this would be able to inspire you to keep on swimming.


When I was young, my aspiration was for my parents to be proud of me. I was more of a hyper active person so I believed that I could excel in swimming if I worked hard for it, thus leading them being proud of my achievements.

I constantly visualized the smile on my parents’ face if I ever won a SEA Games gold medal, and that really motivated me to get up at 5am every morning to train my heart out.

To be honest, I wasn’t the best in my squad during my days of developmental swimming, but that didn’t discourage me because I always believe that as long as I keep working hard, I’d be able to surpass them some day. Always remember that if you believe in yourself, amazing things will start to happen. So start believing! 🙂


Back to my story, so ever since then, I kept on working hard with the mindset of making my parents proud and it has worked out pretty well for me; however, it was only for the training aspect of swimming.

During the past 2 SEA Games that I’ve been to (2009, 2011) I had failed to medal in those games; I missed the podium by a little every time. It wasn’t because I wasn’t ready to race, but the thought of doing my parents proud was too overwhelming that I crumbled under such pressure, which made my performance go down when the big meet came.

I did some deep reflection and started to question my swimming ability and whether I should continue my career as a national swimmer. But then a thought struck me – Since I’ve already been swimming for most of my life, why give up now when I’ve already held on for so long? Screw it, I’m going to try for one more SEA Games, but this time around, I’m just going to enjoy the whole process of swimming.

pang sheng jun

I personally love swimming a lot because it’s a temporary escape from reality; all the stresses from work, school, parents, they’re just gone when you dive in to the pool. When you’re swimming, it’s just the water and you, and nobody can stop you from experiencing that feeling of peace. This made me continue my career in swimming as I just needed an escape from reality.

However, this time around, instead of stressing myself out too much in training, I decided to have fun and enjoy the whole process of swimming. I still continued training hard, but it was done solely because swimming was my life and passion.

And let me tell you this, things started to take a turn when I started to swim for myself – Competitions became much more fun and enjoyable, and medals were just a bonus. I wasn’t stressing myself out too much during big meets and that was the key to my good performance.

This positive feeling stayed with me through out the 2013 SEA Games and I finally won a medal after failing at it 2 times. The best part of it? I was finally able to achieve what I wanted to achieve since young – To see the smiles on my parents’ face. I still can remember my dad playing the SEA Games race replay 10 over times everyday just to relive the moment, and it was indeed heartwarming seeing him being so proud of my achievements.

So when you’re about to give up, just remember why you held on for so long in the first place. If you enjoy swimming, don’t ever stop doing it, because the joy of every good race you swim is irreplaceable. You just have to believe in yourself and work hard towards achieving your goals, and the sense of accomplishment you get when you finally achieve your goals are worth the long grueling hours in the swimming pool.

With regards to social life, if you look at it from a different perspective, swimmers actually have the best social life anyone could ever ask for. My closest friends are from the same training squad as me as we go through the same grueling regime together every day. All the sweat and hard work, we’re going through it together. So overtime the bond between us will strengthen no matter what and we’ll create an unbreakable bond of friendship through the years. We know each others personalities inside out as we’ve been through thick and thin together.

Don’t be afraid that you’ll lose your social life as a swimmer, because you’ll create new friendships when you start mixing around with your swim mates. You see this guys over here? They’re like my family now, and I’d never replace them.


Swimming is my life, and it will always be. Just remember that even if you end your career without achieving your life goal, you’ll still be an accomplished individual as swimming teaches you life values like perseverance and discipline, which will definitely help you in your future career. Take me for an example, my medals in swimming were just a bonus. Ultimately, swimming has taught me these life values that will last me for a life time. So just keep swimming!

I sincerely hope that my life experiences would inspire and give you the extra motivation when you’re tired! 🙂

Have a question as well? Ask me and it may appear on my next blog post!


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8 Things that I Have Learnt From Swimming

Training 5 hours a day and waking up at 4:50am every single day. 

Not only that, sore bodies and a groggy mood due to the limited amount of recovery time from the previous session, that is the daily life of a swimmer.

I remember my psychology teacher telling our class a few years back,

“If I were to have children next time, I will NEVER EVER let them specialize in swimming.

Why is that so?

Let me be honest with you, out of all sports, swimmers train the hardest! Waking up so early in the morning and diving into the cold pool, even I will never be able to commit to their training hours though I am not the one swimming.

Also, what if my child does not win? He/she would have wasted all of his time training. How is that worth it?”

This is the statement from my teacher that I still remember to date. In my 16 years of swimming, I have never once regretted choosing a career path in swimming thought it may be demanding, and here’s why:


1) Swimming is demanding but worth it 


The more effort you put in, the more appreciative you will be of your results, that is how life works.

Imagine this, you train 3x a week instead of 10x and you still win an Olympic medal, would you still treasure that Olympic medal as much as you would if you were to train much harder? I highly doubt so.

That is because often a times we tend to treasure things that are hard earned. Victories that come easy will always be forgotten overtime.

Therefore swimmers usually treasure their medals a lot because it is always hard earned. Every medal is a memory of all the hard work and time invested into training our hearts out.

I treasure every medal I earn as it has taken me a lot of effort and hard work to win those medals.


2) Swimming is addictive


Just like any other sport, swimming is REALLY addictive! And to be honest, It is a vicious cycle.

When you win a race, we get that ‘feel good feeling’ and we would want to experience that kind of feeling once again which leads to training as hard just to be able to maintain a top swimmer.

However, when you lose a race, you would be frustrated and upset about the lost therefore that will motivate you to train even harder.

So no matter what happens, you will always find yourself swimming because you just simply can’t get out of the sport.


3) Swimming has taught me to be a fighter


Over the years of swimming I’ve grown to become really competitive and all my friends have the same drive. I guess swimming has wired us that way as swimming is a really brutal sport; you either win or lose, there is no in between.

Why is this so? Let me ask you this, who was the 2nd place behind Michael Phelps for the 200m Butterfly in the 2008 Beijing Olympics? That’s right, I honestly can’t remember it myself. People only remember who won the race, second place finishes are always forgotten.

Thus over the years I’ve trained with the goal of being the best athlete in Singapore, which has really motivated me to push to my limit for every single training session.


4) Swimming has taught me that setbacks are part and parcel of life 


After many years of competitive swimming, I understand that setbacks are a part and parcel of life, it’s unavoidable. The key thing is knowing how to bounce back from every setback and come back stronger. I have experienced many setbacks, thus over the years I’ve became mentally tough overall.


5) Swimming creates unforgettable friendships


You see the same old faces for 5 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you still aren’t close to your training mates, then you have serious issues. (No, seriously) it’s almost the same in the army, we go through the same shit together every day thus unforgettable friendships are naturally formed over the years. We experience the tough training sets, the insane muscle soreness and the scolding from coaches together, so we’re definitely a tight group of friends. 

Of course we also share our problems with each other out of the pool so we are not only training mates, but the best of friends as well.


6) Swimming has taught me discipline


One of the toughest things to do is to constantly wake up at 4:50am every morning knowing that a hard swim set awaits you. But sacrifices must be made if you want to win. While others are sleeping, swimmers are already up working our hearts out. Even the sun hasn’t risen yet. But I’d rather sacrifice 2-3 hours of sleep every day to train than to face defeat when the day of competition comes. Thus this has taught me to be a much more discipline person overall.


7) Swimming has bonded my family

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We celebrate every time I win a race but also learn from every setback that I’ve experienced in this sport. Honestly, all of our daily conversations pretty much revolve around swimming, so if it weren’t for swimming, I don’t think our family would be as close as we are today. Swimming has really bonded the whole family together. The joy and sorrow from my successes and failures have all been shared in my family.


8) The perks of being a swimmer 


What are the chances of enjoying National Day with the Prime Minister? Chances are really slim for normal people like us. I guess swimming has given me great opportunities like these. Not only that, I even had a chance to take a photo with PM Mr Lee Hsien Loong, it was really a privilege! It has definitely made me even more proud to be a National Swimmer. 🙂

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Since when was anything free in Singapore? But getting all of this stuff for FREE??? Yes of course! Brands will be proud to sponsor us because we bring glory and exposure to their brands as well! So forget about investing in all these costly luxury items as we can get them for free. 🙂 That’s if we keep performing of course!

Processed with Moldiv

Here’s more sponsored stuff I get as a National Swimmer 😀


Thinking twice about whether you should indulge on these yummy donuts? No worries, we can eat as much as we want, we will end up burning all these calories during our intense training anyway.

I have to be honest, indulging in all these yummy food has made me love swimming even more! It’s like the immediate reward we get for swimming hard. 🙂 So if I ever fail to medal in a swim meet, at least I got to enjoy all these yummy food! HAHA.

So there you have it, here are the 8 things that swimming has taught me. Do share this post at the bottom of this page to share the love! 🙂


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Why Swimmers are the Most Underrated Athletes

1) We Train Insanely Hard 1958187_10152276985907363_405049553_n

Back in my Sports School days the swimmers were always the first to be up. Long after our swimming training had commenced, we would start seeing student athletes from other sports walking to their respective training areas. I used to be really envious of the other student athletes but I kind of figured that the demands are really great in swimming. You might be thinking, why do we train so hard?  When it comes to a race, swimming the ‘perfect race’ isn’t actually quite enough. We have got to have the ‘perfect race’ 2-3 times if we want to even get close to winning. Why is this so?  In swimming, we have heats, semi-finals and finals. In most cases we only have heats and finals in one day, which means we have to have 2 perfect races a single day in order to get the Gold medal. So you touched 1st place in the heats with a solid race, you might feel really accomplished about your race. But in reality, what you only accomplished is being a finalist. During the finals, whatever times you did in your heats does not count, everything starts from ground zero again, a guy that qualified 8th place gets equal chance of getting the Gold medal in the finals. So in order to have enough stamina to go hard for heats and finals in a single day, we have to train extra hard to match up to our competitors.


2) It is Not Only Physically Strenuous, but Mentally Strenuous as well   10442466_282669438573161_7491070363692971691_n

Qualifying for the finals makes a swimmer really excited because you are amongst the 8 fastest swimmers which will get to swim again in the finals! Everyone would be watching you race so the pressure is definitely higher. Due to the heats and finals being on the same day, swimmers must learn to stay calm right after the heats to get the appropriate recovery they need to race again in the finals, and trust me it is not an easy task to remain calm knowing that you have a final race later in the evening. I remember back when I just got into my first final in an open age swim meet I got so excited that I could not sleep before the race. My heart was racing so much and I just could not calm myself down enough to sleep. “I’M FINALLY TOP 8 FASTEST IN SINGAPORE!!!’ I just could not believe it. I ended up not sleeping at all and raced in the finals. What was the verdict of my final swim?  It was the biggest regret of my life. I was so tired at the start of the race that I could not perform during the finals. The adrenaline rush came too early and that had caused me my race. But every race is a learning experience, and over the years I have learnt to keep myself calm and contained before the finals. Music helps a lot 🙂


3) We Analyze and Plan Our Races A Lot  10481717_282816405225131_7866411241556373472_n

Since winning the heats does not guarantee you a medal in the finals, swimmers analyze our races A LOT. Personally before every race I would sit down and strategize my race plan with Coach Gary and he would give me the best advice for my race. What makes a perfect heat swim is usually having a perfect race without spending too much energy during your heat swim. The key goal of a heat swim is to get into the top 8. However, it can be really tricky as well. Yes I agree that top 8 swimmers advance to the finals, but do you really want to be 8th place? Not for pride’s sake, but qualifying 8th place in a race means you would be in lane 8 for the finals, which is a corner lane. The downside to a corner lane is that you may not know what is going on in the middle of the pool (Lanes 3, 4, 5, 6) which are the top 4 qualifiers. Unless you are confident of your own race plan, I would not recommend qualifying 8th place in a race, it can go really wrong. So it is all about analyzing your competitors, and planning a specific race plan to allow you to use the least amount of energy and still be able to qualify for the finals in a good lane. Ultimately it is all about winning your competitors for the finals, heats do not matter. For me I find that qualifying top 4 for the finals would be best because you would be able to see your competitors when you race during the finals. That really motivates me to swim faster as I hate to lose so I will try to win my competitors to the best of my ability.


4) If We Do Not Train Hard, Others Will  10520843_10154396581335294_9000382389641759259_n

There is a constant battle between swimmers and their 4:50am alarm clock. Waking up is only the first step to winning the battle with the bed. Jumping in the ice cold pool in at 5:30am is also another thing swimmers dread most. But if it is so tough, why do we still wake up to train every morning?  That is because if we do not get up, others will be busy training their hearts out while you snooze. “You snooze, you lose” it is that simple. We do 6-7km of high intensity swimming per training session so if we do skip a session we would be missing out on a lot. To me that is a strong motivator to get up that early in the morning because if I hit the snooze button, I am already a step behind my competitors as they would not be hitting the snooze button for sure. I am sure that many of the national swimmers in Singapore have this mentality as well, that is why swimming times in Singapore are getting faster and faster each year.


5) Every Part of Our Body is Being Used in Swimming  pang sheng jun

Literally every part of our body is engaged during swimming, which makes it so hard. After each week of training my entire body will be so sore that I feel like lazing my whole weekend away on the bed. Yes, trust me, it is that bad, but we are already used to it.


5) Constantly Saying No to Your Friends  IMG_1548

If I had a great party which I really want to attend, or a game that I really want to play, the first question would be, “Will it end by 10pm? I have to get up for morning training tomorrow.”  My friends outside swimming would laugh at me most of the time at the amount I sleep. They cannot believe that someone so old can actually sleep so much. But yes, I do sleep a lot because that is the only way I can recover from my hectic training schedule. So most of the time if an outing or game has a potential of passing 10pm, I would say no to it as it would affect my training the following morning. I do miss out on quite a bit of fun, but this is the price you would have to pay if you want to be the best athlete you can be. But do take note that life is all about balance, when it is time to enjoy, just enjoy life. I enjoy my life after every major competition so there is a balance to my life. (E.g. having late nights after a major competition like SEA Games or Asian Games)


So this pretty much sums up a life of a national swimmer. Though we make many sacrifices, I personally enjoy this lifestyle as swimming is my passion, and there are goals that I hope to achieve in this sport, and whether I achieve my goals or not, these sacrifices have shaped me to a more disciplined individual in general so I have no regrets. 🙂 People outside of swimming may not know the amount of sacrifice we go through to get the results we want, so hope this story would give you a clearer idea of a swimmers work ethic!


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How I Kept Myself Motivated to Swim as a Kid

Hi Sheng Jun, I am a big fan. Could you post inspirational stories of yourself to motivate myself and other young inspiring swimmers to continue pursuing their goals? – A swimmer from CSC.

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Initially I was afraid of the pool when I started swimming at 6, but with time and encouragement from my parents and a childhood coach, I had the courage to put my head in and start swimming.

As a kid, my parents always believed in enjoying the sport, so whenever I did not want to train, they would not force me to. There were even days that I told my parents I wanted to stay home and play Pokemon on my Gameboy and they allowed me to.

What is the rush of being the best in your age group now? Medals can wait, the main focus right now is about building unforgettable friendships and to have fun.


It’s About Enjoying The Sport 

Dad & Me.2

I remember once taking 3 days off swimming and having a whole chocolate cake right before a competition and I still did a personal best time. Surprising isn’t it? The key to swimming success is not always about staying focused and analyzing the race, it is actually all about having fun.

From that day, every time I had a competition, I would be rewarded with chocolate cake either by my coach or parents before my race. That was the life!

From here we can conclude that the secret to performing well is to just enjoy the whole process, to enjoy the competition. Do not stress yourself out too much, it will only have a negative impact on your performance.


A Setback in my Swimming Career

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Lucky for me even when I was swimming for leisure and fun, I was still winning medals, which really motivated me to train much harder. However, there came a time when the move focused I became, things started to fall apart for me.

I was training harder but ironically my swimming results became worse. The reason behind my fall was not because I was over thinking my races or anything, it was just that every guy in my age was going through puberty. I was a late bloomer so I was racing against guys that were 2-3 heads taller than me. It was as good as a boy racing teenagers. I’m not exaggerating.

I felt really discouraged to lose over and over again to those bigger guys so I told my parents that I wanted to quit swimming. Imagine training harder than you have ever trained before and still losing, how is that worth it? Obviously my parents did not allow me to quit, and told me that “this is just a low phase in your life, be strong. Remember telling us that you want to be an Olympic Champion? Even champions have their low moments in their sporting career. Trust us you will get past this in no time.”  You have no idea how angry I was at them at that point of time when I could not quit swimming.

What was worse was that I was far behind on my school work due to all the swimming training and I was often canned for this by my form teacher, Mrs Lim.

“SHENG JUN, QUIT SWIMMING LA, WHERE CAN SWIMMING BRING YOU? YOU CANNOT EVEN COMPLETE YOUR HOMEWORK AND YOU STILL WANT TO SWIM?” This statement was followed by a few strokes of the cane on my hand with a ruler. Teary eyes for me every time I was caned and I still do not know why I continued swimming. I feared school as I was caned by my teacher, and she was the person I feared most in life.

Even though there were so many things going on in my life at that period of time, I still continued training hard as I trusted my parents’ decision.


Have a Goal in Mind, and Never Give Up No Matter What Happens

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It was only after 2 years of hardship that I finally grew (well just a little) and started winning medals again. My happiest moment when I was a kid was winning the Overall Champion for the ACS Swim Carnival. (Photo above)

As I collected the Overall Champion award, a familiar voice shouted from the crowd, “Sheng Jun!!!! Well done!” I immediately turned at the direction of where the voice was coming from. To my surprise, it was Mrs Lim!

After I saw her she waved at me with a smile, and she was standing beside 2 other teachers. “That is my student!” She said proudly with a smile to the 2 teachers.

All the fear, the hard work, and the amount of sacrifice over 2 years was worth the moment I saw the smile on her face. You have no idea how much happiness I felt at that moment of time as I had been through so many tough times to the point where I was going to break.

That was the time where my passion for swimming grew strong and I started to live by my ‘Hard Work Pays Off’ motto and kept training hard from that day. Never give up on your passion and goals no matter how impossible or hard they may be, because all your hard work will pay off one day, it is only just a matter of time. You are in control of your own life, do not let others tell you otherwise. Just take me as an example, if I had given up when I was a kid, I would not be where I am today.



I have come a long way and it is amazing how much I have grown since, but nothing has changed. My passion for swimming has still remained strong and I will keep training hard until I achieve the goals I set myself out for.

It is obviously very different now in the National Team, but it is a whole new experience. I will never forget the friendships made back then when I was a kid. Always remember to have fun, and you will realize how much more meaningful the sport becomes!

I am really thankful to my parents for the constant encouragement during my lowest points in my swimming career. Your family will always be by your side through the darkest moments of your life and I am really lucky to have them.

So, this is my story. Hope it inspires you and your friends to train even harder and continue to pursue on your goals! 🙂


Have a question as well? Feel free to email me at or drop me a question on 🙂

pang sheng jun


pang sheng jun

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A Deeper Look at What’s in my Swimming Bag

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I received a request from someone to show what I have in my swimming bag when I go for training sessions, so here it is:


1) Loads and loads of Swimming Trunks from Arena


I’ve been an Arena sponsored athlete since 2009. And since then, I’ve been piling up the trunks that they sponsor me in my swimming bag so that I have the freedom to change the swimming trunk designs I wear for every training session. I have more than 10 trunks in my swimming bag. Since I train 2 times a day, I would personally get bored if I were to wear the same trunks every day.

I always believe that sharing is caring. Swimmers forget to bring their swimming trunks for training sessions at times due to certain reasons; E.g. forgetting to put them back in their swimming bag after drying them, etc. So if anyone were in need of trunks, I would be happy to lend them mine. I’m pretty sure Zheng Wen and Michael Yong can relate to this.


2) A spare set of Swim Cap and Goggles

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Call me crazy, but I always have the fear that my goggles/cap will snap one day with the amount of time we spend on training, so I always bring a spare set of cap and goggles in case one snaps. So far none has given in yet. (Maybe because they are from Arena haha)

You might be wondering: Why 2 sets of caps but 3 pairs of goggles? I bring a spare pair of goggles in case someone else’s snaps and they need mine. It has happened quite a few times. Swimmers like Kei and Samuel Khoo have borrowed my spare goggles before so they have come in handy.


3) A lot of fluids to keep me hydrated 

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Staying hydrated is key to performing well in a hot and humid environment like Singapore. I carry 2 bottles of Gatorade to stay hydrated during and a bottle of protein shake for immediate recovery post training. Sadly I can’t really afford to share my water as it is just sufficient for me.


4) Creative Soundblaster Roar Wireless Speakers

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Lastly, I bring my Creative Soundblaster Roars for every week’s dryland session (Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons) as our group finds that music does give us that extra motivation and pump when it comes to working out.

These speakers are really bass heavy and loud so it suits the hip hop/dance genre that I usually blast during our dryland workouts.


So there you have it, all the stuff that I pack in my swimming bag. To be honest, it’s a really heavy swimming bag, but lucky for me I only carry it for no more than 5 minutes before putting it down.

Have any more request? Do email me at and I will be happy to answer them.
Alternatively, you can just drop me a question at if you want to remain anonymous.

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The Perfect Playlist that Psychs Me Up Before Every Race

It is said that swimmers are always crazy over having the perfect playlist before a competition/race. Well true enough I really do spend 1-2 hours trying to create my very own perfect playlist before a race and these songs really psych me up. What I look for in a song is that it obviously has to be upbeat and it also gives me a really fresh feeling after listening to it, it’s leaning more towards the Dance genre.

Do check out my top 10 songs that gets me fired up before a race:

1. Dear Boy – Avicii


I think all swimmers that know me well know that I can’t live without this song. Played this song for about a 1000 times, still not sick of it. The beat is really addictive and I just can’t stop listening to it. Swimmer Chris Cheong should know best as he kinda got sick of the song because of the amount of times I’ve played it every morning during overseas competitions when he was my roommate haha!

“Dear Boy Dear Boy, always Dear Boy. CHANGE SONG LA!” 


2. Wild Wild Love – Pitbull Feat. GRL


This song just gives me a really fresh feeling after listening to it. Love the tune.


3. Wake Me Up – Avicii


My second most favorite song from Avicii’s True album. It has a really good beat and lyrics are meaningful too.


4. Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Feat. Ray Dalton


This song is upbeat and it really fires me up. It’s also one of Coach Gary’s favorite song.


5. Liar Liar – Avicii by Avicii 


This song is from the remixed album by Avicii himself. This song has a much fresher beat in this album which really gives me the ‘feel good’ feeling before a race. It starts off slow and it slowly builds up from there.


6. You Make Me – Avicii by Avicii


Avicii created a new beat to this song which really smashes the old beat from the earlier album.


7. X You (Radio Edit) – Avicii by Avicii


This song was created by many DJs and artist to perfection and it gives me a really fresh feeling after listening to it. I still love this song though there are no lyrics to it.


8. Bad – David Guetta & Showtek Feat. Vassy



9. Beam (Dannic Mix) – Mako feat. Angel Taylor


Here’s another song with a good beat and melody.


10. Everybody Is In the Place – Hardwell 


This song gets me fired up as it is also upbeat as well.

So here’s the Top 10 songs that psych me up before every race. Hope you like it! If you have pre race any songs that you would like to recommend me do leave a comment at the comment section below and I’ll add it to my playlist!

Thank you so much! 🙂



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Different Muscle Fibre Types Determine Whether You Are A Sprint or Endurance Athlete

Question from Aaron Yeo:

Nice article about Endurance vs Sprint Athletes. So what is the difference between type 2a and 2x muscle fibres?


My Reply:

We have 3 types of muscle fibres in our body, mainly type 1, type 2a, and type 2x. Like I said in my previous blog post, type 1 is slow twitched muscle fibres which are for endurance athletes whereas type 2 muscle fibres are fast twitch which are for sprint athletes. Here are more details of each of the muscle fibres:


Type 1:

–          Low in force production, suitable for long duration and low intensity exercises

–          Fatigue resistant

–          Suitable for endurance races like a 1500m swim or marathon


Type 2a:

–          Moderate in force production

–          Slightly fatigue resistant due to having similar characteristics as type 1 muscle fibres

–          Suitable for high intensity and short duration races like a 200m/400m swim or 800m run


Type 2x:

–          High in force production

–          Fatigues easily

–          Suitable for very high intensity and short duration races like a 50m swim sprint, 100m run or power lifting which require a lot of explosive force


World Class Swimmers With Different Muscle Fibre Types: 

Type 1: 


Sun Yang, the world record holder for 1500m Freestyle, has predominantly type 1 muscle fibres.


Oussama Mellouli is the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Champion for the 1500m Freestyle and 10km Open water race. He definitely has predominantly type 1 muscle fibres.

Type 2a:  


Phelps on the other hand dominates practically everything from 100m – 400m races, he has predominantly type 2a muscles fibres, which explains why he can do endurance races and sprint races at the same time.


Park Tae Hwan is similar to Phelps, which explains his endurance in the 200m/400m races and also his speed in the 100m races.

Type 2x: 


Sprinter Cesar Cielo Filho is the world champion in the 50m Freestyle and Butterfly races, he definitely has predominantly type 2x muscle fibres.


So which type of athlete are you? Do leave a comment at the comment section below 🙂


Got a question as well? 

Feel free to email me at or simply leave a comment below and I will be happy to answer them for you.


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An Untapered Swim Meet; A True Test of a Swimmer’s Mental Strength

A key to a swimmer’s success in competitions is to have a good taper.

Taper is the reduction of training intensity for a short period of time (1-2 weeks) prior to a major competition. This allows our body to recover from all the strains and fatigue we accumulate over the months of hard training.

With a good taper, we would be able to peak when the major meet comes.

San Beda Swim Meet


Photo: Quah Zheng Wen swimming Freestyle

Last Saturday, Coach Gary signed us up for an invitational meet with the San Beda School from Philippines. Basically, it was a fun meet whereby Team SAC (which was us) were against the San Beda Team (Philippines).

The day before the meet everyone thought that we were going to have a day of easy training to prepare ourselves for Saturday, but we were so wrong. Coach Gary gave us a lactate threshold set which made us super fatigue the next day.

Lactate Threshold

Lactate threshold is the exercise intensity at which lactate (more specifically, lactic acid) starts to accumulate in the blood stream. To put it simple, it’s a really really really tiring training session.


Photo: Coach Gary

“Guys, do note that I’m making you all fatigue today on purpose.

When it comes to a real competition, it isn’t always about who is in a better physical state, rather, what matters most is who has the strongest mental state. So right now I’m training you all to not only be tough physically, but to be mentally tough as well.

I believe that if you all are mentally tough, no amount of fatigue can stop you from doing well.” Wise words from Coach Gary indeed.

Last competition with training mate Kei Hyogo


Photo (Left to Right): Quah Zheng Wen, me, Kei Hyogo) 

During the day of the competition we all were required to sign up for 6 events in a day. To be honest that’s one of the most strenuous competition schedules I’ve ever raced in. A swimmer usually has about 4-6 events per competition, which is spread out into 6 days (1 event per day). The competition itself was a day, thus everyone had to swim 6 events in 1 day, which is practically impossible. But we all swam this competition with an opened mind, and since it was Kei’s last competition before he leaves, we decided to challenge each other so we signed up for the exact same events.

Race 1: 100m Freestyle

Right before the race Kei told me that winning wasn’t everything; we’re just here to have fun. We both were tired so I agreed to just have fun in this meet. After our first race, the 100m Freestyle, Kei out touched me by 0.5 seconds.

“THAT’S 1-0 PSJ, 5 MORE RACES TO GO.” Kei said confidently.

You don’t know how much that fired me up to swim harder. At that point in time, I know that the race was on. Things became really interesting after that. Swimmers will always be swimmers; you’ll never get rid of the competitiveness in us no matter what. I myself am a really competitive person in general, and I hate to lose.

Race 2: 100m Breastroke


“Kei, prepare to lose for this one.” I said before the second race, the 100m Breastroke.

“Bring it on.” Kei laughed.

Lucky for me I out touched Kei by 0.2 on this race.

“You like that Kei? That’s 1-1.”

“OHHHH that’s it man, you don’t know what you signed up for.”

Race 3: 200m Freestyle


Third race, the 200m Freestyle, I was leading at the 150m mark but Kei overtook me for the last 50m. At this point of time both of us were already so fatigue that we couldn’t really talk after the race. All we were focusing on was to remove as much lactate acid as we could to prepare for the next race.

Score check: Kei (2) – PSJ (1)

Race 4: 200m Individual Medley


Fourth race was the 200m Individual Medley.

Before the race Kei told me, “Hey PSJ, I guess we’re both really tired now, let’s just try out best to swim well.”

“Yeah, of course, we’re both going to try out best, but I’m going to win you for sure, that’s all.” That really fired Kei up to do better for that race too.

Right before the starting blocks we both look at Coach Gary and admitted that we’re tired. “Guys, your mind is tired, not your body. Don’t give me excuses because I’m not accepting any of it.” It’s constant mental training like these from Coach Gary that makes us the strong individuals we are today.

The same thing happened in the 200m Individual Medley. I was ahead at the 150m mark but Kei caught up with me at the last 50m. Lucky for me I managed to hold his race and won Kei by 0.3 seconds.

Score check: Kei (2) – PSJ (2)

Race 5 & 6: 50m Butterfly and Freestyle


Unfortunately Kei and I were in different heats for these 2 races therefore we didn’t compete head to head. As much as I don’t like to say this, Kei won me for both of these 50m races, so I guess the final score would be 4:2 to Kei.

“PSJ YOU SEE?? 4 – 2, 4 – 2!!!!!!!!!!! YEAHH.” Kei exclaimed.

“Hahaha, I’m sure we’ll race again.” I replied, congratulating him.

But like what Kei said from the start, it’s all about having fun, winning isn’t everything, and I’m pretty sure we all did have fun racing that day.

P.S Nah I was just joking, I really wanted to win Kei before he leaves for Yale, but oh well I guess this leaves a great memory for all of us.

Overall Experience


Overall I guess everyone had fun in this meet. We were all pushed to our limit but we managed to clock decent times in all of our races.

Personally, this meet has made me mentally tougher; I never knew what my body was capable of until I was being pushed to the limit.

I guess what we can take away from here is that however tough or impossible something may be, don’t be afraid to try, because you never know what your body is capable of. Don’t be afraid of failing, because setbacks will only make us stronger.

Just like how I thought I couldn’t complete 6 races in a day, but I did anyway. Yes, it was really tiring, but it made me a much stronger swimmer.

Special thanks to Coach Gary for giving us opportunities like these to race.

Also, special thanks to professional photographer Adrian Seetho for taking all these photos for us!


On a side note:

Find out how you can get an autographed cap by World Champion Christian Sprenger and do good at the same time, more information here:


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7 Key Things that Led to Christian Sprenger’s Success in Swimming


Christian Sprenger is the former World Record Holder for 200m Breastroke who won a silver medal in the 2012 Olympics and Gold and Silver for the 2013 World Championships.

He came by to the Swimfast Aquatic Club on Monday for a motivational speech for our club and we’ve learnt several key tips about how we can improve our swimming performance. We had a Q&A session after his speech and here are some of the questions that we’ve asked:

1) What is the best method of recovery after training?

Try to grab a protein+carbohydrate drink 20 minutes after training as our body has lost a lot of these nutrients from the tough workout in the pool. Carbohydrates can be in a form of simple sugars or simply just grab a banana as that is a good source of carbohydrate.

2) How do you handle the pressure before a race? (e.g. Olympics and World Championships) 

Well to be honest pressure is not always a bad thing, in fact, it’s a good thing if you learn how to use it to your advantage. The increase in adrenaline and butterflies in my stomach, these are the signs that actually signals me that my body is ready, and I’m ready to race.

3) How do you stay motivated?

Well for me it’s always about setting goals and taking small steps to get there. Like I’ve always wanted to be a world champion, but it doesn’t mean that if I plan to be a world champion today, I will be one tomorrow. It starts off with aiming to get in the finals in Australia, after that goal is achieve, it would be to be the top in Australia, followed by being the top in the Commonwealth Games, then winning an Olympic medal. Setting reasonable goals and taking a step at a time motivates me to train harder.

Another thing that motivates me is one of my competitors and great friend Cameron Van Der Burgh. Waking up at 5am being sore and tired has never been an easy task for any swimmer, I know, but for me I always picture Cameron training harder than me everyday, and if I don’t wake up, that would be a session advantage for him and I can’t let that happen, so that motivates me to get up and train every morning as well.

4) Where do you learn your Breastroke technique from?

I learn my Breastroke technique from myself. I watch how world class swimmers like Cameron Van Der Burgh swims, analyze it, and make it my own technique. My coach also helps me out with my technique but it all depends on whether it works out for me. It’s not always about listening to your coach, you have to see what suits you best and stick with it.

5) How often do you gym? 

We have 3 gym sessions a week, and for every gym exercise I try to focus more on engaging my core as core is an important element in swimming. An example would be for a pull up, before every pull up, I would make sure that my core is tighten before I start my repetition. That helps a lot in strengthening my core thus it helps in swimming.

6) How many hours do you sleep a day? 

I try to get 8 hours of sleep every night with naps in the mornings. That would add up to 10+ hours of sleep a day. But sleep varies among individuals. I know some swimmers who sleep less and they find that that helps them to have better performance so sleep is very subjective. Do what suits you best!

7) How do you get rid of the pressure of swimming? 

It’s about having a balance of social life, academics and swimming. You don’t have to be thinking of swimming 24/7. Like for me when it’s time to enjoy with my friends outside I enjoy, I don’t constantly think of swimming all the time. And out of the pool I study as well which helps to keep my mind off swimming. So as long as you have a balance in life, you wouldn’t have much pressure when it comes to swimming.

Christian Sprenger and Pang Sheng Jun

Hope this gives you a greater idea on how to better your own swimming performance because it has definitely helped me out and motivated me to train harder! And thank you to Christian Sprenger for taking time off to come and visit our club.


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