In this issue of AquaMobile’s Athlete Spotlight, we feature Melvyn Wong. He is a highly accomplished competitive swimmer and coach. He’s won multiple Provincial and National medals and won a silver medal at a Lifeguard Pool National meet in 2014! Read more about how swimming has shaped him as a person and as an athlete.
Name: Melvyn Wong
School: York University
- Coach at Mississauga Masters Swim Club
- Silver medallist at the Lifeguard Pool National Meet
What Attracted You To Swimming As a Sport?
I originally got into swimming because my parents didn’t want to worry about me being alone in water. They understood that safety in the water is important. I chose swimming because as you train with your team you develop a bond with everyone, like it’s a big family.
Even though we train as a team, most of the events are individual performances. I race against a clock, and to me it helps me improve myself to get stronger and better everyday. I also love the fact that swimming allows me to meet so many people and travel around the world doing something that I enjoy.
I have coached competitive swimming for about 6 years now with age groups ranging from 6 to 60 years old. The first person I coached was my younger brother. At first, I did not see it as coaching since I wanted my brother to be strong in the water much like my parents wanted for me. I am currently the assistant coach for the Mississauga Masters Swim Club and have been doing so for the past 4 years. I have also coached younger children who have gone to compete at Provincial and National meets.
What Are Some Of The Challenges to Coaching?
Coaching adults and children alike has its challenges. I find it to be easier to communicate with adults since they’re willing to learn and will pay attention to you, but they also have built up some bad habits growing up and it’s harder to change their technique.
Children on the other hand might not want to be at a swim practice and sometimes it’s hard to get their attention, but it’s easier to fix their technique. Coaching and swimming competitively has the same impact on me – it’s a love hate relationship and sometimes you just have to enjoy both the challenges and accomplishments.
Personal Lessons You’ve Learned From Being a Competitive Swimmer
The biggest lesson swimming has taught me is that I am my biggest enemy. There is no one that I can blame when I have a bad race or practice. I’ve learned that becoming a great competitive swimmer is just as much of a mental battle as a physical one. I love swimming because it has taught me that I am capable of anything that I set my mind to. I have done sets that I thought were impossible to complete, but after I finish them I leave the pool knowing that I accomplished something great. I truly believe we give our bodies so little credit for what we are actually capable of.
Swimming has also taught me how to recollect myself by finding my center and moving on. It has helped me with a lot of troubles growing up and serves very well as a stress relief tactic especially in challenges that I face in life. During swim practice I really enjoying hopping in the water since all my thoughts go away. After practice is over I feel rejuvenated and it helps me focus on what’s in front of me.
Swimming has made my relationship between my brother and I stronger than ever. Even though he is 9 years younger, most of the time we don’t even need to speak to communicate. We give each other a look and we understand what we are trying to get across. Having a brother who is a competitive swimmer like me has been one of the greatest things that’s happened in my life. I’m happy I could positively influence him through coaching him at an early age, and teach him about how swimming is a great way to stay active and gain confidence. Our close bond stems from our love for swimming and competition, I would not have it any other way.
What Advice Would You Give to An Aspiring Competitive Swimmer?
My advice to upcoming young competitive swimmers is keep doing the sport that you love. The records that you’re trying to beat is a symbol of what our previous generation has accomplished and we want everyone to do their best to set their own records. Also, an important thing to keep in mind is to not get burned out. Given the large population of young swimmers that are in competitive clubs, not many of us make it out without suffering severe injuries. This leads to swimmers that give up on the sport because their bodies have been hammered with so much mileage that they lose interest. I would say everything that you do, do it in moderation. Don’t rush or be hard on yourself because you have not reached your goal yet. Your time will come!
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