Life Through A Lens #21- BACK TO REALITY

 

Top 10 Moments of 2017

As the 2017 year comes to a close, I wanted to stop and reflect on the year that has passed. While there is so much hate and negativity going around in the world, when you stop to think about life, you really only remember the good things. Just like anyone, my year had ups and downs, but at this time I am realizing how small and trivial the downs were, and how uplifting and exciting the ups were. These are my top ten moments (in chronological order) of 2017. I hope this inspires you all to think back on your year to remember all the amazing times.

1. February 2017- The last meet of varsity high school swim career was everything and more that I could have asked for. I was the captain of the team and we were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for our conference championships. We had all trained super hard the whole season and were excited to see what we could do as a team. To be honest, I was not confident that we would be able to pull out a win, simply because we had a fairly young and new team. The gold medal came down to the very last relay, in which I was swimming. All we had to do was beat one relay team to snag the championship. As nerve-wracking as it was, it was the most amazing race of my life, full of nothing but excitement and adrenaline. As the anchor of our team touched the wall ahead of the other team, we broke out in tears of immense joy. The absolute highlight of my high school swimming career.

2. February 2017- I always knew that I wanted to travel to New Zealand before I graduated high school, and I got the opportunity to visit the beautiful country on a school trip in February. We spent 8 days doing everything from hiking, camping, luging, white water rafting, and visiting and staying in traditional Maori housing. It was a beyond incredible experience (though I have to admit, mentally challenging at times, especially during the hiking) and I am so lucky to have visited the country. I hope I can visit this amazing country again soon!

3. March 2017- One of my favorite parts about living in South East Asia is being able to travel around easily at a fairly low cost. At least once a year, my family goes on a quick vacation to a SEA beach destination. This year we went back to Phuket, Thailand for spring break and stayed at the Meridien. As usual, the beach was clean and beautiful, perfect for a little getaway. We spent our days lounging on the sand and spent our evenings exploring restaurants throughout the town. This five day trip with my family definitely made it into the top ten moments of this year.

4. June 2017- Of course one of the highlights of this year was this milestone, Graduation! It was a crazy and hectic time of the year, but I was so unbelievably lucky to have so many family and friends around me to celebrate. I was one of those people who just loved high school, so this moment was sad as I was saying goodbye to so many people and places, but also exciting as I started a new journey.

Graduation blog post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/07/09/a-goodbye-to-high-school/

5. July 2017- Instead of coming back to the US for the summer (like we normally do), my family stayed in Asia and I was able to travel around a bit. My mom had a business trip to Seoul, and since I had never been I decided to tag along. Although we were only there for 3 days, we saw and did so much. From exploring the local malls to going to the Korean spa and eating lots of yummy Korean food, it was a blast.

6. July 2017- Every summer my family and I go to our lake cabin in Northern Japan for a few weeks to hang and spend time with family. Last year, we discovered what I like to call a hidden gem of the Tokyo area, Karuizawa. Mainly known for it’s outlet shopping mall, the beautiful suburb is filled with secret spots that are amazing. This year we took a day off from lake life and spent the day shopping, going to the hot springs, and visiting the cutest little vintage shops. Definitely a day well spent.

7. July 2017- Although this was an extremely sad time, it was also a very memorable time. After 18 years of living in Singapore, it was time for me to say goodbye (more like see you soon!) to my beautiful little island. As most of you probably know, I have so much love in my heart for this country. It was fun for me to spend time really appreciating all the things I love about Singapore and doing a little bit of exploring at home. The last week spend at home was full of family, friends, laughs and of course some Din Tai Fung and a Tiger beer for the road:)

8. August 2017- One of my biggest dreams came true this year not only as I started college in LA, but also as I began my career as a collegiate athlete. There have been so many “pinch me” moments these last few months as I’ve experienced things I’ve never dreamed of doing. From my first collegiate swim practice and swim meet to living the LA life, college has been everything and more I ever wished for.

9. October 2017- While being away from home was hard, I was lucky enough to have my dad visit me for a week in early October. We spent the weekend hanging around Downtown LA and Santa Monica, eating to our hearts content. As a foodie, it was a much needed break from the college food scene (though I have to admit, our school has really good food). We found amazing eateries everywhere from Santa Monica Boulevard to Sunset. It was such a fun weekend with my dad, and I was lucky to have him with me.

10. December 2017- After the first semester in college, it was so nice to be home with my family for the holidays. I had counted down the days, and it was definitely one of the best holiday seasons yet. I was lucky to have 2 1/2 weeks at home and spent so much of that time with my mom, dad, little sister and doggy. There was lot’s of Christmas shopping, yummy food, cooking, cheers-ing and laughter. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the year.

Here’s to an amazing 2017 and an even better 2018!

Happy new year!

Pre-Race Rituals

In honor of my next big meet starting tomorrow, I thought I would share some of my pre-race rituals with you. These are just a few different things I do before a big race to make sure that I get up to the block feeling 100% ready. I really hope that you find these interesting and helpful, but remember that you are your own athlete. Everyone’s going to have different mindsets before a race and will need to do something different from everyone else. Do you have your own pre-race ritual? And if you don’t, can you come up with one? Leave your ritual in the comments!

Day before:

  1. I always make sure that I get at least 30 minutes in the water the day before a race. I won’t do anything hard, just a meet warm-up and some dives and sprints, but I just need to make sure that I get a feel of the water. This can be hard to do, especially if you are traveling to your meet, but I find that even waking up extra early to get a quick swim in before your flight makes you feel a lot more confident about your race.
  2. Eat smart. While I always try to do this, I do this even more so the days leading up to a meet. If I have school that day, I will pack everything I’m going to eat that whole day the night before so I know I’m eating what I need to. I eat tons of fruit, nuts and bars, protein, and complex carbs. I love brown rice cakes with peanut butter and dried cranberries or bananas. It’s a perfect way to fill yourself up with protein on the go. I try not to eat too much meat or veggies the night before, just because they tend to be a little heavier and take longer to digest. Eat simple food that will digest and give you energy before your race.
  3. WATER! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 5% dehydration results in 35% loss in performance, so drink up!

Night before:

  1. Eat dinner fairly early and get to sleep as soon as possible. Give your body as much time as possible to digest all of your food so you swim with tons of energy and without a heavy stomach.
  2. Pack your bags. I always pack my bag the night before a swim meet. I find that I sleep so much better when I know that all I have to do in the morning is change and run out the door. Goggles, warm-up suits, race suits, caps (endless amounts of caps), clothes, jackets, and food. I have everything ready to go in my bag.

Day of the race:

  1. Get to the pool early. Nothing’s worse than stressing about being late to warm-ups or even your race. Don’t let that be the reason that you don’t swim well. I’d much rather get to the pool 15 minutes early that be running 5 minutes late, it just rattles your brain. Stretch, sleep, rest, do whatever you need to do to stay calm.
  2. Have a pump-up playlist. Some swimmers hate listening to music before a race, but I feel like (especially in the on-call room), having one earphone blasting music drowns out some of the negative thoughts around you. These are some of my must-haves on my playlist:
    • Turn Down for What- DJ Snake & Lil Jon
    • Die Young- Ke$ha
    •  Best Day of My Life- Gazzo Remix
    • Bo$$- Fifth Harmony
  3. If you are confident and excited about your race, there is no reason you shouldn’t have a good swim. When I get up to the block, there is nothing else I can do to prepare. I am confident that I have put in the work for my swim, and I am excited to finally race. Let yourself be excited, and be confident that you will swim your best. When I really stop and think about it, swimming that one race is ten times easier that what I do multiple times a day at practice. My body knows what it needs to do, and the time will be what the time needs to be.

If you have a big meet coming up, remember to stay calm and be confident! GOOD LUCK:)

My Letter to Swimming (6 months later)

To my love,

“I hated you. I really did. I wanted nothing to do with you, but you didn’t let me get away. And I didn’t let you get away. Whether I knew it or not, I always found an excuse to crawl my way back to you. And I did it again, but this time, a little different.  You put me through the hardest time in my life, but now I know why you did it. Like always, you did it to teach me a lesson. You did it to give me a tiny little taste of what real life would be like. As hard as it was to be put through that, it was a reminder for me that nothing will get in our way. We will always, no matter what, find a way back to each other. You reminded me of the strength that lies behind one’s passion. Once aware of your passion, the opportunities are endless, and what you must do then is take it and run with it. I’m so lucky to have had you to guide me through all of this. I’m so lucky to have you by my side no matter what we’re going through, reminding me that everything will end up the way it’s meant to, and that everything will be okay. For that I will be forever in debt to you.

I thought we were over 6 months ago. I really did. I thought that our time was up and that my goggles would come off for the last time. But thank you for showing me that our time will never be over. No matter what happens from this day forward, I know that you and I will be inseparable until the day I die.”

Discovering My Passion… AGAIN!

6 months ago, if you told me that I would be back in the water, in better shape than ever and captain of the team, I would have told you you were insane. But here I am, 6 months later, and I would have been wrong. You were not insane. It was a hard time to go through. All the lying and hiding and ditching practice, I’m hoping I never go through it again. But, it changed my life forever. I hated the sport, I wanted nothing to do with the water. I couldn’t stand to be around my coaches or the pool. I distracted myself, or at least I tried to. I kept everything inside for so long, not saying anything to anyone, even my parents. But finally, that day came when I had to let it all out. I had to tell people how I was feeling. That week, the day and the week after I told my parents what happened was the hardest week of my life. I thought I would never get over it. Someone close to me helped me gain some perspective at this point. She told me to take a step back. Take a couple weeks out of the water and see where it takes you. It might take you back to the water, it might take you somewhere very different. And whichever way I went, it would be okay. I knew that I had some other passions that I never had time to pursue. I was interested in nutrition, I was passionate about body image and I wanted to help others learn how to be healthier. But what could I do about this? Well, those two weeks out of the water ended up being the most clarifying two weeks of my life. I found so many opportunities that I never would have discovered if I didn’t pull myself away from the pool. I began working on projects that I became so emotionally attached to because of how passionate I was for those things. At that point I looked at my life and thought that finding these new passions meant that I was done with swimming. The time had come and I was ready to hang up my suit one last time. Boy was I wrong. Although it was a grueling process that took a long time, I found my way back. I started swimming again simply to stay in shape. I had no desire to go the extra mile or to race, I just needed to keep my body moving. And after a 1 month break, 2 months of swimming for exercise, 2 months of swimming on my own over the summer, and 1 month of swimming with our new team (shout out to Eagle Swim Club!!), I found my passion. Was it a new passion? No. Did I always know it was my passion? Yes. So why did I think I found my new passion? Because I did. I had lost touch with the water for so long, that I had come to terms with the fact that it was over. Discovering my passion again felt like no other feeling. It was a Tuesday afternoon about 3 weeks into school, and I was on the bus home after a hard practice and this rush of happiness fled over me. I couldn’t figure out why, but now I know. It was the moment I fell in love with swimming (again!).

My Letter to Swimming

To my love,

“For most people, the first moment they fell in love was with a person. Perhaps their high school sweetheart or college boyfriend, but it was with a person. Not for me. I fell in love at a much younger age, and it wasn’t with a person, it was with you. You became a place of instant comfort, something so similar, yet so different. You were intriguing and mysterious. From the time I was a young 5 year old, you taught me grace, humility, and confidence. I didn’t learn to love you, I simply fell in love with you. That love lead to years and years of dedication and commitment, and I would have never learnt those things if it wasn’t for you. You showed me kindness when I wasn’t kind back. You showed me forgiveness when I didn’t deserve it. You taught me what it means to work hard for something you want. I’ve felt a rainbow of emotions because of you. Nerves come before every race, no matter how many times I’ve swam at a meet. Hatred came during every practice when we did those grueling 400’s. And joy came every single day when I pulled out my swimsuit and goggles to get ready for practice. You gave me the most meaningful friends I will ever make. You gave me coaches that cared so much about me and knew me better than I knew myself. I thought that our time was up, I thought our time together only existed in distant memories memories, but because of everything you’ve showed me, I know our time is not up, and it might never be over. We still have years and years to come, and no matter what form that comes in, you will always be my first true love. But if the time does come when I’m ready to hang up my suit for the last time, I want you to know that you will forever and always be a part of me. Thank you for making me the person I am today, and for all the memories we’ve made, are making, and will make.”

The Benefits of Yoga

 

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“Aummm, Namaste”. When most people hear this phrase, they think of a relaxing, low intensity workout called yoga. While that phrase does in fact represent yoga, many are mistaken about it being relaxing and low intensity. Yoga can have a relaxing element to it, however it requires an enormous amount of core and back strength (helping to create a good sense of balance). Using your core and back to keep you up and balanced, yoga works to stretch out and elongate your muscles, keeping you aligned at the spine. For swimmers, flexibility and keeping your muscles long is very important to hold your technique together, and allowing that extra reach at the end of each stroke. Most swimmers will get tight very quickly from all the dry-land, weight, and swim workouts. If swimmers don’t take time to stretch properly after every workout, they are going to get tighter and tighter every time which can result in injury, especially around the shoulders. Yoga and swimming have always been two activities that have gone hand in hand. The minimal gravity effect of swimming leads many to believe that you cannot get injured through swimming. It is true that you won’t break an arm in a matter of seconds or get a gash in your leg, but over time, your muscles and joints will start to wear and tear, unless you are taking care of your body. Yoga is a great way to make sure that you are keeping your body in tip top shape, to reduce the chances of getting an injury. “Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel” -Kevin Trudeau. Allow yourself to look inside and see how good your body can feel.

Butterfly or Butterdie?

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One of my favorite swim quotes ever is “The stages of a 200fly: Butterfly, Buttertry, Butterwhy, Buttercry, Butterdie”. I love this quote because it is hilarious, but also 110% true. All of my swim buddies think that I’m crazy for wanting to swim the 200fly at a meet, or not minding doing a 2.5k fly set in practice, and sometimes I think I’m crazy too! Here’s what I’ve realized about the 200fly; after the first 100m, your arms are hurting so bad that they become numb and you can’t even feel them anymore. At that point, all you need to do is move your arms in circular motions (which you are an expert at) and try to move through the water as quickly as possible. You don’t even need to think about what your arms feel like until later. After the race finishes, you will be so excited that you did well (hopefully) and that you finished! When you are floating there in the water desperately trying to grab onto the lane line, is when it hits you. You are gasping for air and using the lane line to keep you above the water, while also trying to rip your super tight goggles and cap(s) off your head. So here’s my point: a lot of people think that a 200fly is super long and really hard. Well it is really hard, but at the end of the day the 1st 100 is painful, but after that you feel so dead and numb everywhere that you can’t even feel the pain anymore. For all you swimmer’s out there who are terrified of the 200fly, maybe you should try it! And who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with it like I did!