Persevering, Despite the Pandemic


I believe that If I have passion for something, nothing can stop me from doing it. At the early start of 2020, a new form of virus started its outbreak, and it almost stopped me from doing something that I love. The virus was contagious and could be passed around easily; to stop further spread, people were required to stay in quarantine. Eventually, the virus got so out of control that China had to lock down a whole city. My genuine interest in sports was limited by the restrictions the virus had created. Since both my basketball and swim training camps were closed, I found myself trapped inside my home without any form of outdoor exercise. As a basketball player and a swimmer, I try to maintain my muscle mass, body shape, and strength so that I can have a smooth transition from one season to the next when I can start competing and training again. However, without even one-fifth of the training I had before, I quickly noticed some flab appearing in my abdominal area. For the first time during the pandemic, I actually stopped worrying about getting the virus and started to think about my physical conditioning instead. Thinking about this now, trying to avoid the virus to stay healthy is just so ironic since I was losing my good health in general. 

After contacting my basketball coach, we finally managed to locate an outside court where I could continue my training with one other teammate. To be honest, the first couple of days did not go well. After almost three months of not touching a ball, my handling was pretty awkward, and my shooting accuracy was very low. Our coach definitely helped us have a smoother transition to getting back into shape. To prevent injuries, he ensured that our training intensity was not as much as before the pandemic. We focused mainly on dribbling and shooting. Then, a couple of weeks later, we focused our training on our physical fitness to get back into competing shape. We worked every morning for months and months, improving as much as we could in the least amount of time. Although I am unable to play on a basketball team now, my passion for it has not diminished one bit. In fact, my teammates and I became even more hardworking at basketball, and, as it turned out, we drastically improved our skills in a very short period of time — much more than we had ever expected we could do!   

During the lockdown, it was particularly hard to find training camps for swimming. However, my teammates and I managed to come back and swim when it looked like the pandemic was starting to diminish. The drop in my swim time speeds was even more drastic than the loss of my basketball skills. My swim time was 4 seconds slower for all of my strokes; the start of swim camp was definitely a down point. Everyone’s mood was sad, and it made me feel discouraged. Since my muscles were weaker, and I had lost power in the water, I was completely and utterly distraught. Any swimmer, even the elite ones like Leon, would be unmotivated by these changes. 

However, this was not going to be an obstacle to stop us swimmers. During the next few days of practice, my teammates and I trained the hardest I had ever seen us train. We dove into the pool without any complaints and kept swimming even if we were panting hard. We even increased our exercises out of the water to enhance our training. Soon, everyone was ready to compete. 

Our swim club quickly organized our first swim meet of the year, held at Water Cube (Beijing’s National Aquatics Center). Many of us were really nervous since we were up against swimmers on professional swim teams, and for all of us, it was our first time competing in a whole year. I had three events to compete in at that meet: the 200-meter individual medley (IM); the 50-meter freestyle; and the 50-meter breaststroke. I rarely swim IMs, much less 200-meter IMs, so I wasn’t particularly fond of competing in this specific event. Standing on the block, I could already feel my feet shaking, though I had no idea what I was shaking for. Instead of feeling immensely frightened, standing on the block made me feel blissful. To my surprise, I was enjoying the whole racing atmosphere! Before I knew it, the horn blasted, and out I dove into the cold water.  

Overall, my time actually improved, and so did everyone else’s times. The results made me feel more confident in myself and much happier. My improved swim times were like a well-earned gift from all the hard work we had put into practicing!  

Through both these experiences, I learned that I am able to persevere to achieve my goals even in the hardest times. Since the swim meet was really close to when we first started training, we did not have much time to prepare. Therefore, we had to sacrifice our personal time to train, which meant more training time each day than we train in a normal season. Likewise, for basketball, I started off the 2020 season with poor ball handling, lack of physical strength, and inaccurate shooting. To quickly regain my abilities for upcoming events, I had to become more disciplined during training. Even though the world around me might have been in a mess because of the pandemic, and the resources to support our training had mostly been closed, I learned that I can persevere in the hardest of times. Since I was able to succeed during this difficult year, I saw the value in pursuing sports, so I will definitely continue working hard whilst playing — and enjoying — the sports I love.