March 10, 2014
Swimmer Raphael Chau visited from Singapore for 3 months, joining the FAST Senior Group for the 2013-2014 winter quarter. After returning home, Raphael was interviewed about his experience swimming in California. Please read below to hear what Raphael had to say about his 3 months with FAST.
Interview with Raphael Chau on his 3-month training at the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team, California, USA
By Barry Prime, Head Coach, SSP Swimming Academy
What was the purpose of and reason for spending 3 months in the USA to train and which swimming club did you train with?
My parents went for their sabbatical and they decided to go to the USA for 3 months and since it was such a long duration, I needed to find a club to train at. My mom put in the address where we were staying (at her friend’s in Anaheim Hills) and emailed the first five nearest swim clubs in the region. The first to get back to my mom was the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST) and that's where I resided for the next 3 months under coaches Brian Brown, Wes Sinclair and Lauren Morford.
What was your daily and weekly training routine?
For the first month, training was 5-6 times a week at the most, mainly because it was their end of year exam period, plus I was overcoming jet lag. During the month of January, training was 9 times a week with Tuesday and Wednesday mornings off for an extra sleep in. For the last 4 weeks of my stay I trained 11 times a week. Afternoon training was approximately 11k. The lowest being 10k and highest being 15k.
What was the difference that you found between the types of training that you were performing?
The type of work I was doing was a lot of background aerobic work. The training sets were a lot longer than I am normally used to with different expectations placed on me too.
Was there any difference in coaching style?
Coach Brian's policy is that now isn't the time to be your fastest; everything now is preparation for college. He doesn't believe in tapering or doing heavy land work. He believes that is for when you are 18 years and over, when a student may be continuing their swimming at a USA college/university. His golden rule is “Work Works” and his favorite equation is Attendance x Effort = Improvement. He put me through the “s’more cycle”, meaning you get sore then you do more.
What was your training team like?
They were a fun bunch, willing to go the extra mile during training in order to complete the insane training sets. They all have a passion for swimming and I never heard them complain once.
What did you learn and gain from the experience of training in the USA?
I learned that a passion for sport is really lacking in Singapore. I learned to appreciate the Sports School for its convenience, thus making it easier to train.
How much sleep did you get each day in the USA compared to the sleep you normally get in Singapore?
A lot more sleep. I slept about 10 hours a day because I had nothing else to do. Thanks to the boarding school, I can get the same amount. However, during the holidays I get about 8 hours of sleep a day because of travel time to training.
Having spent time in the USA, what are the top 5 key points that you can bring back and recommend to the SSP programme with a view to enhancing its standard of swimming and team performance as a whole?
To look at training as something fun and helpful instead of a drag. Obey the coach even though what you're doing is unfamiliar or out of your comfort zone. Don’t complain. Don’t worry. Be happy.
Do those in the team that you trained with in the best swimming nation in the world train harder than those swimmers you know in Singapore or not as hard?
It depends on the person whether swimming is important to them or they're just messing around. On average I would say the Americans train harder.