31st SEA Games Vietnam - Journey to Hanoi: Age just a number for Fin Swimmer Lim Yao Xiang

Making his fifth Southeast Asian Games appearance at the age of 40, fin swimmer Lim Yaoxiang is not carrying any expectations with him choosing only to enjoy the process

Lim Yaoxiang made his SEA Games debut 19 years ago in Vietnam. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

He calls the sport of fin swimming the Formula One of swimming. And just like an F1 car, 40 year-old fitness entrepreneur and trainer Lim Yaoxiang seems to physically defy the concepts of time and age.

Having first made his SEA Games debut in Vietnam 19 years ago in the sport of fin swimming, Lim has gone one full circle right back to where he began in what could be his last major games for Singapore.

Back in 2003, he clinched an individual bronze for the 50m surface category for fin swimming, and also took gold for the 4 x 100m relay surface event.

Watch our full interview with Lim Yaoxiang on Studio Plus here.

He didn't stop there of course, adding three more SEA Games gold medals to his collection in 2009, 2011 and 2013 after making the switch to water polo.

So what made Lim decide to give the SEA Games another shot eight years after his retirement from elite competition?

"Do what you need to do so that when opportunities knock you can grab it," said Lim when asked by SportPlus.sg. "Things happen then you least expect it if you are ready."

Fin swimming is a physically demanding sport, and Yaoxiang has had to adapt the way he trains having retired from elite competition 7-8 years ago. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

And what of the difference between the current athlete that he compared to the younger version of himself a decade ago? What exactly has changed?

"I guess the first thing to acknowledge is the body change that has occured not just with age, but also the inactivity that I have gone through since I retired 7-8 years ago. So that's the main part that is very challenging for someone my age," shared Lim.

Rising to the challenge has not been easy for Lim, who also spends time coaching students from school, other national team sports like handball as well as run a private gym - Grityard, which recently opened its second studio in the CBD.

Lim Yaoxiang last won a bronze medal in the individual event in Fin Swimming in 2003, and a 4 x 100m relay gold. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

So how exactly does he find the time to train and manage it all especially with a decline in energy and physical capacity for performance?

"While wanting to excel in the sport, I still need to hit the gym and carry weights - but with an added portion of injuries."

"I need to manage both at the same time. The main shift has been in allocating more time to recovery, mobility and stretching as compared to when I was younger," he added.

Yaoxiang has had to incorporate more recovery, stretching and mobility work into his training schedule compared to his younger days as an athlete. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

He also spends extra time focusing on areas he needs to improve on compared to his younger days.

"The focus now is more on power movements. As I age, the ability to exhibit power movements start to decline, so ironically that is something I need in my sport - which is what my body is lacking. So I spend more time doing these instead of just carrying heavy weights."

Yaoxiang will be competing in both the 50m and 100m surface events for fin swimming at the 31st SEA Games, and for now he is just focusing on enjoying the process and giving it his best effort without any expectations medals.

Having represented Singapore in water polo at three editions of the SEA Games, Lim Yaoxiang has gone one full circle back to fin swimming where he started. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

Prior to receiving the nod by Singapore National Olympic Council, he had been training in secret for two years in his own time without knowing if he would qualify or be selected to go for the Games.

If you would like to find out more about what fin swimming is, be sure to watch till the end of our video interview in this article, also available on Studio Plus!

The 31st Southeast Asian Games will be taking place from 12 - 23 May 2022 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Apart from training for the SEA Games, Yaoxiang also has to do coaching of schools at the side as well as run a private gym which he co-founded. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

SportPlus.sg is pleased to join hands with TikTok, the world's fastest growing social media platform, to shine the spotlight on the journeys of 10 of Singapore's SEA Games athletes in this 8-part series, and assist athletes with TikTok content creation to amplify their online presence for the Games.

Special thanks to Team Singapore, Singapore Athletics, Singapore Badminton Association, Basketball Association of Singapore, Football Association of Singapore, Singapore Silat Federation, Singapore Swimming, Volleyball Association of Singapore, Singapore Underwater Federation, ActiveSG Sport Centres and Chinese Swimming Club for supporting this series.

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