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No room for errors

One of the greatest joys I derive from my career as a professional swimmer is still being able to be left in awe. I am currently in Singapore for the first-ever Singapore Swim Stars event.

I’m here with over 20 fellow Olympic champions, world champions and record-holders.

In the made-for-TV event to be showcased to millions of viewers worldwide, I will race in an elimination format for the 50m freestyle.

It’s going to be a fairly stacked event with no room for errors at all. But being able to compete and to continue to be one of the best swimmers in the world is what I live for.

However, as excited as I am about partaking in the competition, to be fair, I was even more captivated by the view I experienced yesterday.

I enjoyed the privilege of swimming in the Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool. For those not in the know, the pool sits on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands hotel and is an impressive 150m in length.

But back to business. While I believe my start to the Fina World Cup series has been encouraging, it shows I still have a decent amount of work to do.

While 99 per cent of my competitors were all well rested and completely ready to race, I approached the first two legs in Doha and Dubai as an opportunity to garner some race training after a heavy three weeks of preparation. Not ideal, but given the need to get in some base training it was absolutely essential.

In Doha, the 50m breaststroke kicked off my campaign. This has proved a really strong event for me over the last few years. I don’t train it much but feel that I’m still able to stay fairly fresh and positive about racing the event. There’s a lot to be said for going in with an attitude of no expectations. While the race wasn’t ideal, I managed to put together a fairly solid performance and pull off my first win of the World Cup series.

The 50m butterfly was next, and in truth it wasn’t one of my better races of late. While disappointing to only garner third place, it was exciting to see Chad le Clos swimming so well. It’s been great watching the Durban boy grow and mature over the last few years.

It’s never very much fun being beaten at these World Cups but ultimately I need to remember that I’m at an entirely different place in my season than most other swimmers. It’s at points like these where I must remain entirely focused on the improvements I need to make instead of the times I’m swimming or my podium finishes.

The freestyle event was definitely the most frustrating race in Doha for me. Day two of competition was my fourth full day after my lengthy travels from the US. It’s at times like these when you realise just how badly jetlag can affect the human body.

Furthermore, a lack of sleep and dehydration play a significant role in performances. However, as professional athletes we must ultimately make the best of adverse situations and from a personal perspective, I always try to ‘race tough’ no matter what.

On to Dubai and after getting in a bit more rest, I was happy to see a slight improvement in both my breaststroke and butterfly disciplines.

While my ‘fly is still a far way off from where it was during last year’s World Cup series, there are plenty of positives which I can draw from my most recent races. And as far as my freestyle is concerned, my technique is so close to where it needs to be.

Post your comments and questions below and follow me on Twitter @Rolandschoeman

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