As a kid, I disliked having any contact with the water. I was diagnosed with chronic asthma when I was 4, my parents enrolled me in swimming classes hoping to cure my asthma. I was the coach’s nightmare, screaming, refusing to put my head into the water. It took my coach 3 months. Once I put my head in the water, was when my swimming career started.
As a kid, I loved the adrenaline that came with racing. I also loved the feeling of winning. I was inducted to the Singapore Junior National Team at 9, where I competed in junior regional competitions to. At 13, I earned my spot on the South-East Asian (SEA) Games, garnering my first SEA Games Gold medal in the process. I started competing extensively on the international circuit such as the World Championships and Asian Games. I was also balancing a high level of academics. At 14, was ranked 10 th on the World Junior ranking, and at 15 ranked 25 th in the world.
As I got older, other parts of my life required dedication such as pursuing a college degree and finding my career path. I wanted to swim and excel academically, and pursuing swimming in a US college would allow me to accomplish both. After many meetings and emails to college coaches, I was eventually recruited to swim for the University of Arkansas on a full swimming scholarship.
US College Experience
I started my Freshman college swimming season on a high note. Aside from qualifying for the National Championships as a Freshman, one of the most memorable experiences was getting a congratulatory handshake from the legendary Jack Bauerle, Georgia swimming Head Coach. I had beaten 2 of Georgia’s as well as the nation’s top 2 backstrokers, who were at least a head taller than me at a dual meet. A feat for someone my size.
It wasn’t easy being a college swimmer. I was exhausted and sore from training countless hours in the pool and studying hard to maintain my GPA. However, I constantly reminded myself why I swim.
I was doing it for myself, because I truly loved the sport and there is no better feeling than getting out of a hard training session, realizing that not many people can do what I do every single day. The camaraderie of my team-mates helped keep me motivated throughout my collegiate swimming career. They were my second family away from home, especially when home was 10,000 miles away.
After 17 years, I retired from swimming. I started working in the Government. I had to adapt in a fast-paced and unexpected work environment. During my stint in the government, I realized that being a swimmer, we approach situations differently. We understand what it takes to establish and achieve goals, and we illustrate earnest determination to perfect all the little details that lead to conquering a challenge.
Swimming taught me numerous life lessons. It has pushed me beyond my limits, physically and mentally, molding me into a stronger and more resilient individual, ready to tackle obstacles life has in store for me. And for that I will always be grateful that I decided to be a swimmer.