© Keita Yasukawa
Jonathan (J): Swimming means everything to me right now. This is because in the 14 years of my life so far, I have dedicated almost 70% of my time to swimming.
Glen (G): It’s the same for me. Swimming means everything. I started swimming two years later than Jonathan when I was 7 years old, so I have given half of the time in my life to swimming.
I believe that as people grow, they are given chances to discover their talent. For me, this has been swimming.
As your talent grows, you encounter difficulties, but it is very important to take an attitude of continuing to work hard. At the same time, it is absolutely essential to take an attitude of having fun. If a sport were no longer fun, it would be meaningless to me.
J: I learn many things each day from my life as a swimmer.
I have learned a spirit of self-determination, a spirit of perseverance, and a spirit of believing in my abilities.
This may be somewhat common, but I am always telling myself to never give up.
G: I feel exactly the same way. If I weren’t a swimmer, I doubt I would have taken on a mindset of never giving up. Let me also add that you should continue to pursue your dream.
J: Glen just mentioned that, as an athlete, it is important to find enjoyment in what you are doing, and I also think that it is important to have fun. Through swimming, I have been able to make many friends who I can rely on. I don’t think I would have been able to build these friendships if I weren’t having fun, and I believe that being able to make friends and rivals throughout life is one of the most attractive things about sport.
I feel that the attractiveness of sport can be found in both the difficult aspects and the fun aspects.
For example, if you win a race and set a new record, this is the greatest moment as an athlete. But, honestly, that is just a result, and medals and new records are just extras.
The true value of that greatest moment is…
G: I think it is the process of struggling to get to that moment.
© SINGAPORE SWIMMING
J: I started swimming at age five. My parents had me start it so I wouldn’t drown if I fell in the water. I wasn’t very interested in it at first, but I realized it was not bad going swimming instead of staying home. Then I got into swimming and enjoyed it.
G: My parents also had me start swimming. That’s when I was seven years old.
It was fun to be able to swim faster and faster as every time I went to the swimming club, and I became passionate about it.
Before starting swimming, I was usually playing video games at home, so my parents were happy that I started living a healthy and active lifestyle.
J: I have known Glen for a long time, and we became close friends a year ago when we started practicing together at national team training sessions.
G: We specialize in different distances, but we both swim freestyle so we compete against each other as friends.
J: Glen is better at long distances, so I try to improve my endurance by following his example. Glen and I are friendly both inside and outside of the pool. When we face to difficulties, we always reach out each other to support.
G: Even when we are outside of the training, we are good friends, and we sometimes go and see a movie together. We have a small quarrel every once in a while though.
J: When I won my first Southeast Asian Age Group medal in December 2014, it was a really big event in my swimming life. But understanding the importance of my family members and friends like Glen who will stand by my side when I am facing difficulties is perhaps much more valuable than medals.
G: For me, setting U-14 Singapore records in the 800m freestyle in February 2015 and in the 1,500m freestyle the following month were unforgettable, and I think that one of the most valuable things that sport gives you is friendships that you can experience on a day-to-day basis.
© Keita Yasukawa
G: We are now practicing every day with the national swim team, but we are still 14 years old, so we need to maintain a balance between swim practice and our school life as students. To do this, we need good time management skills.
J: Ever since I decided to improve myself as a swimmer, I have had to assign orders of priority to things, and I have had to make sacrifices of course.
We both want to be as good as Joseph Schooling (who won Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games) someday.
All of the members of the national team who were in Singapore got together to watch the final of the 100m butterfly in which Joseph won the gold medal. We were very excited at that time.
G: Joseph is now a national hero, and he has had a big influence on us. I think his win will increase the number of swimmers in the future, fuel the intensity of domestic competition, and raise the overall level of competitive swimming in Singapore.
J: Until recently, people were saying that it would be impossible for a Singaporean to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games, and Joseph disproved that.
If you are determined, and work hard single-mindedly, you can achieve your goal. He gave us the courage to believe that everyone has a chance to make his or her dream come true.
© Keita Yasukawa
J: My ultimate goal as a swimmer is of course to become a medalist at the Olympic Games.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be held when I am 18 years old. I am not sure how far I will be able to improve myself in the next four years, but I am first of all hoping to have the honor of being chosen to represent my country and experience the Olympic Games. I will then be able to calmly see my level in the world. If possible, I hope to gain the skill to make it to final race. If I am able to make progress even more than that, I will of course aggressively aim to win a medal.
G: I have exactly the same goal as Jonathan. I want to become an Olympic medalist someday.
Also, like Jonathan, I want to be a finalist at the Olympic Games in 2020. I believe that if you continue to practice hard with strong determination and conviction, nothing is impossible. Also, I’m sure that no matter what the result is, the process will be a rich and meaningful experience.
Thinking of the future of sport overall, I hope that there will be a situation that is fair for all athletes. In order to realize this, I think we need to relay the importance of clean sport to the next generation. .
J: I completely agree with Glen. I think that if all athletes are competing with each other under the same conditions, this will push the athletes to achieve even higher levels and lead to the further development of sport.
© Keita Yasukawa
J: As is probably true of many swimmers, I was not able to swim at a top level right away after I started swimming.
I believe that what separates the top athletes from the athletes who cannot make it to that level is not the talent they were born with. I think it is a matter of whether they continue working to overcome walls that they encounter rather than giving up. Hard work is not necessarily rewarded right away. There are things that will not go well no matter how hard you try. I suppose this doesn’t just apply to swimming.
What I have learned from my swimming experience is a mindset of never giving up.
I think that since I have long life ahead of me, there will be many difficulties that I have to overcome as a person and as a swimmer. I will move forward with the belief that “There is always a light at the end of the tunnel” and a mindset of never giving up.
G: I can proudly say that I am an athlete with strong willpower. For example, even if I wake up feeling unmotivated, I have the strong determination to push myself to go to that day’s training session. This might be only natural for athletes, but I believe that it is a basic thing, and also one of the most difficult and most important things.
Through my swimming activities, I have been able to learn values that are at the core of my life that I probably would not have been able to learn if I weren’t a swimmer.
With the quote, “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”. Kept it in my mind, I will work hard and encourage each other with Jonathan.
Jonathan started swimming at age five at the recommendation of his parents, and started down the path of competitive swimming at age seven.
He joined the national team in 2015.
That same year he won a medal at the Southeast Asian Age Group Swimming Championship, which was held in Vietnam.
At the Asian Swimming Championships, which was held in Tatsumi, Tokyo in November 2016, Jonathan entered the 50m, 100m, 200m, and 400m freestyle and 100m butterfly. He also participated in the finals of the 400m medley relay as the anchor.
Glen started swimming at age seven.
He joined the national team in 2015.
In February 2016, he set a new record for the Singapore 14-and-under 800m freestyle, which had not been broken for 12 years.
In March 2016, he set a new record for the Singapore 14-and-under 1,500m freestyle.
At the Asian Swimming Championships, which was held in Tatsumi, Tokyo in November 2016, Glen entered the 400m and 1,500m freestyle. He also participated in the 400m freestyle relay together with Jonathan.