The open water swimming event made its debut on the Asian Games stage, attracting attention from the public and various sectors. The event generally involves outdoor swimming in the sea, lakes, or rivers. The biggest challenge is not only the athletes’ physical and mental condition, endurance, and willpower, but also their ability to judge water conditions. Tides, surface currents, and wind resistance are the main determining factors for completion time.
During the competition, swimmers start swimming in the sea at the same time without a separate lane to swim in. When as many as 50 or 60 people jump into the sea at the same time, there is no actual limit on the distance between athletes, resulting in fierce competition and a high risk of colliding with other athletes or physical contact, which can affect their performance. This is completely different from indoor standard pool competitions and presents a greater challenge.
Hong Kong long-distance swimmer and open water sports athlete, Nip Tsz Yin, shared that the biggest challenge is to maintain a good mindset at all times. In a competition that lasts up to two hours, both internal and external factors are unpredictable. In terms of external factors, even if one’s ranking is high at one moment, a big wave or a turn can cause their ranking to drop by dozens of places in the next second. In this situation, if one does not have a strong mindset, they can easily feel discouraged and greatly affect their performance. In addition, when dozens of people swim in the same direction together, there will be many collisions. When sprinting towards the end, if there are athletes swimming side by side, the anxiety and pressure can be very high. The key to winning is to remain calm and composed during these critical moments and fully unleash one’s abilities.
As we all know, athletes need to have good physical and mental qualities in order to compete at a high level. The average person may falter when faced with invisible pressure, but athletes are strong because they also have strong hearts. Even under great pressure, they can focus on their training in the present moment.
Earlier, Nip Tsz Yin ranked third among Asian swimmers in the World Championships, and her outstanding performance caught the attention of many media outlets. At first, she felt a lot of pressure. Stephanie shared, “There are high expectations for me, but I know that reality is not that simple. There are many variables in the 10-kilometer race, and even if I win a medal in this competition, the challenges and obstacles faced in each sea race are different. Therefore, unpredictable results are inevitable.”
She understands that many weather and environmental factors are not things she can fully control. As an athlete, she needs to slowly adjust her mindset and focus on every detail that needs to be done. She needs to concentrate on what she can control, give it her all, and reduce the pressure significantly.
The greater the expectation, the greater the pressure
Focus on the details and adjust your mindset.
With a major event coming up, Stephanie still feels nervous before every game because there are always unknown challenges. At the same time, she looks forward to the results of her hard work in training every day. During these two months of training, she has felt that there is still room for improvement every day.
When facing each game, it’s natural to have moments of self-doubt or lack of confidence. Before one particular game, those self-doubting voices arose again, and my coach told me, “Actually, your performance has been improving steadily. You’ve made breakthroughs in every game, and in some games, you even achieved excellent results. These improvements and good performances should help you build confidence. You need to believe that you are capable of doing well.” Hearing my coach’s words made me realize that my past achievements were proof that I could do well. If my coach believed in me, why didn’t I believe in myself?
“When your body can’t take it anymore, use your willpower to push through!” When you endure the toughest moments, you will be amazed at how strong your willpower can be. That sense of accomplishment will be powerful and will help you maintain enthusiasm for that thing and continue to improve.
The open water swimming event is about to begin, so keep an eye out for the latest competition news and root for Nip Tsz Yin!
Source & Data: provided by interviewee