Sunday 29 September 2013

by Nicole Lee Poh Sim, Sophomore 2 Cempaka, Class of 2015

When you look down from the foyer, or anywhere in school where you can get a good view of the pool, you’ll usually see children splashing around in the water and probably the first thought which comes to your mind is: “That looks fun, I wish I could be in the pool right now.” Well, that's what I used to think too, many, many years ago, before I took up swimming. You know when you’re good in a certain sport, people usually assume you love or enjoy doing it? Well, normally that's true, but not for me. Swimming just wasn’t my cup of tea back then. 

I started swimming at a very young age. Being a very stubborn child, I would usually refused to swim laps. It was just too much hard work. I would stop halfway and go to the shallow side to sit down. I preferred playing and splashing around in the water. My parents used to give me a long lecture each time after my swimming class. But I hated swimming. I literally had to be dragged to the pool every week, throwing fits and screaming along the way. Surprisingly, my parents didn’t give up on me. In fact, they pushed me to work even harder. After some time, I realized all I had to do was train and swim my laps if I didn’t want to get scolded. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t (and still isn’t)!

After a few years of swimming, my coach suggested signing me up for the swimming club in school. He said he saw the ‘potential’ in me and thought I could go far. "What a liar", I thought to myself. I was quite reluctant to go at first, but I gave it a try in the end. 

I joined the school swimming team at the ripe age of eleven. I was one of the slowest swimmers at that time and I felt pretty embarrassed about it. Everyone else would be miles ahead of me and I would be all the way at the back, gasping for air like a fish out of water (pun not intended). I wanted to give up. I told my parents I didn’t see the point of continuing as I was a long way behind the rest of the group. My parents didn’t say much. My dad asked me, “If you decide to give up swimming, what sports will you be willing to join? Do you think it’s worth quitting swimming at this age now to start a new sport? You’ll be too far behind.” My immediate response was, “What’s wrong with me trying out a new sport? It’s not that hard.” However I think some part of me knew whatever my dad had just said was all true. All I wanted was to get my own way.

After giving it some thought, I finally agreed to continue with swimming. I knew after making this decision there was no turning back. So continue on I did. One of the toughest things to do at that time was waking up at six in the morning to go for swimming in school. What made it even worse was that it was always freezing cold and I hate cold water. 

I'll admit it took me quite some time to get used to training with the school team, but after a while I managed to adapt. In truth, my training now has cut down a lot compared to when I was in primary. From going for swimming training twice a day almost every day of the week, it has become three to four lessons at the most, per week. However, this does not mean it has gotten any easier.

If you think the only thing we do during training is swim, you’re wrong! This may be surprising but we actually have to do land training before we swim and it does play an important role. Sometimes we also have to go to the gym, either to stretch or lift weights. On certain days, we run at least 10 laps around the pool or at the field. We even have to jump hurdles at times at the field under the hot scorching sun. On rainy days, we usually go to the South Hall to play basketball. After land training, I’m always sweating like a horse, no doubt about that. And the best part (well actually worse) is , we’re not even halfway through training yet. There’s still a long way to go, but this time in the pool.

If we’re lucky enough, we do eight laps for warm up (this happens very rarely). We actually have to do at least forty, sometimes even eighty laps, and this is only warm up. The program after warm up determines whether we’re dead meat for the day or whether we’re spared. Reason being, sometimes we have to train for long distance - one of the most dreaded programs. I don’t enjoy doing long distance, mainly because I don’t think I really have the stamina, and believe it or not, I can even lose count of the number of laps. I prefer sprinting programs because I like moving fast and pushing myself in the distance we swim. Normally, we swim at least four kilometers a day. If there’s a competition around the corner, we have to do at least six kilometers. I sometimes reflect back, and ask myself, “How is it that I now am able to swim this amount of laps without stopping when just a few years ago I refused to even finish one lap?” 

For me, the best feeling I ever have as a swimmer, is when my timing improves during competitions. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a few milliseconds, or if I don’t place in the top three, the only thing that matters the most is timing. Knowing that I have achieved a new record for myself is a great feeling and it motivates me to do even better in the future. 

However, swimming tends to be a very unforgiving sport. One microsecond can separate the winner from the runner up. It could even be the difference between a record breaker. The most minute of differences in timing can lead to heartbreak and disappointment like no other. In my opinion, swimming is one sport where you’re basically competing with yourself the most, and not so much with others. At the end of the day, the lesson we learn is that sometimes accepting failure is more important than priding over victory. 

Last but not least, looking back on how much I've learnt and grown throughout my years in the swim team, I have no regrets despite the what I went through. This may sound cliché, but without my parents, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve wanted to give up swimming countless times, but my parents were the ones who helped me get back on my two feet. 

They knew how much I despise swimming, yet they always believed in me, and I'm so grateful for that. I would be lying if I said I have a passion for swimming even now. I don’t, but I have definitely learnt a lot from it. Without becoming a swimmer, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. 

by Unknown 14:44 39 comments | in , , , ,


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