At the Rio Olympics this coming August, national swimmer Quah Zheng Wen isn’t aiming to be purely a participant there.
Said Quah, 19, “I want to be more than just a participant. I am aiming to make the semi-finals or the final… that will set me up nicely for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and racing against the world class swimmers at the Olympics will be exciting. If i make the final, all eight of us will be so close together and anything can happen.”
Quah will be competing at the Rio Olympics in three events – the 100m fly, 200m fly, and 100m backstroke – having met the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying mark in all three.
The swimmer added, “Swimming against the top people, who are already World Champions and Olympic medalists in their own right, is a feeling that never gets old, and it really helps to cultivate more experience under my belt, to be able to race against them and not feel so nervous and afraid of them after each meet. Each and every experience makes a world of difference and it is going to help me – so this time, it will be quite different to my first Olympics in London 2012 when I was just a nervous and scared teenager.”
Quah admits though, it is never a “comfortable” feeling, competing against swimming’s top names such as Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Sun Yang. Added Quah, “But I think though, that I have a pretty good understanding of the situation and I know how to handle myself against them, the more that i race against them.”
Confident about his swimming form for Rio
But nevertheless, Quah is feeling confident about his form as August looms nearer, too. Said Quah, “I am shaping up really well and I am confident. Looking at the past year that I have been training with Sergio (Lopez), (the national swimming coach for Team Singapore), my times have been consistent and good. I am in good shape and I will continue to trust Sergio and go with his plan.”
Quah added “Preparation has been going well too. We just got back from a Phuket training camp last week and the next one will be in Florida beginning 10 May. In fact we will be training overseas all the way to the Olympics in Rio – this will be intense and we will be far from home, but that’s good, as it will remove the distractions and let us focus on what we need to do.”
As well, Coach Sergio has started Quah on weights training, to further improve his strength. Said Quah, “The aim is to get stronger – I am pretty good at the longer distances like the 200m events because I have a good aerobic base but for the 100m events, I need to get stronger and more powerful – thus the weights.”
Wakes up at 4.45am for training
What is a typical day in Quah’s busy training schedule like, anyway, as he gears up for the Olympics? According to the swimmer, he wakes up bright and early at 4.45am every morning for his first of two daily swimming sessions at the pool with his fellow Team Singapore swimmers.
Added Quah, “I train twice a day – my morning training begins at 5.30am and my afternoon session starts at 4.15pm.”
Both of his training sessions lasts about two hours each. Said Quah, “I get back around 9am from the morning session and eat breakfast and nap as soon as possible, then I will wake up and get some lunch around 12.30pm and chill out till 3.30pm which is when i head to the pool again.”
He continued, “Then I get back around dinner time and grab some food. If I need to do admin work, I try and get that done as soon as possible, then I crash as I know I have another early morning the next day.”
Does normal, “simple” teenage activities to de-stress
With this sort of discipline and schedule, it is no wonder that Quah does not have a lot of time to hang out with his family and friends and simply de-stress.
But when he does have the chance, though, Quah admits that he tries to do “normal teenage things.” He explained, “During the weekends, my family and I go for a meal and catch a movie. We try watching a movie every Saturday night together. I also walk my dog Koda, a German Shepard – when I am not too tired and bedridden. And I also go out with friends whenever I can.”
And it is these simple experiences, joys and things in life that Quah certainly treasures – whenever he can find the time to do so.
Quah unveiled as the Brand Ambassador for Liberty Insurance
And “embracing simple joys” in life, falls in line with the latest tagline of Liberty Insurance, one of Singapore’s top ten general insurers – and who have unveiled Quah as their new brand ambassador at a media press conference this morning, to support the national swimmer on his road to the Rio Olympics.
Said Chang Sucheng, Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Insurance Singapore, “Through determination, discipline and hard work, Quah has shown that our local athletes can compete on the global stage. Despite his intensive training schedule, he still finds the time to enjoy the simply joys in life. We are proud to be partnering with Quah to inspire future generations of athletes, as well as to rally Singaporeans to support their national athletes in Rio.”
He added, “As someone who has watched swimming for a while, Quah really spends a lot of time in his craft. The amount of work that he puts in during his practice sessions to get better, we feel, mimics Liberty Insurance – we are constantly striving to get better for our customers. So I thought there are great parallels between swimming and insurance – thus our choice of having Quah Zheng Wen as an ambassador.”
And as part of this one-year long Liberty Insurance campaign, you will see Quah’s face on Liberty Insurance’s social media pages, as well as billboards and brand videos. As well, Quah will also be conducing swimming clinics with kids, though the details for these clinics have yet to be fully arranged.
Fronting a company is still quite new to Quah though. Said the swimmer, “It is pretty new to me – I would say that i have never done something like this before but it’s a rather fun and new experience. Things have been moving faster than I have ever expected!”
Quah added, “But I am humble and honoured to be Liberty Insurance’s partner in this national brand campaign. Like everyone else, I am in the midst of chasing my dreams, and facing challenges and sacrifices along the way. This makes treasuring the simple moments with my loved ones, even more special.”
Inspired by his sister, Ting Wen
His loved ones include his older sister, Ting Wen, whom he admits has been one of his sources of inspiration at the same time.
Said Quah, “I have seen her go through a lot. She started swimming before me and she’s also studied overseas in California, in the United States. She’s faced a lot of challenges and unforeseen complications on her journey and the way she has pushed through to do her best, really puts things into perspective. If she can do it, why am I even complaining about anything? She just shows how far you can go, if you set your mind to something and she’s someone whom I really look up to.”
Becoming a national swimmer was never on his mind
Swimming for Singapore had never actually been something on Quah’s mind as he was growing up though.
Said Quah, “When I was a kid, I was always so playful and never really thought about these sorts of things – it just grew on me. As I swam I discovered that it was something I really enjoyed and I am pretty lucky that things panned out the way that they did. I mean, my sister was in the national team at that point and the opportunities were always there for me, but it was never my goal to become a national swimmer.”
Added the swimmer, “Basically I just knew that I loved racing and that I l diked to do well. I wanted to get good at this sport but it was always more about me and how I wanted to do things that I enjoy.”
Tips for aspiring swimmers
So then, what advice can Quah share for future swimmers out there?
Said the swimmer, “I would say that you should never second-guess yourself. If you really love swimming and have the passion for it, do not give up just because you are not there yet. Everything happens for a reason and as long as you keep working hard at it, you will get there someday. This applies especially to me because I was a late bloomer in my swimming career.”