Fit And Fab

Hang out? Sorry, I have to train

National swimmer says she has to give up a 'normal' social life

Roanne Ho.

Q What's your secret to looking fabulous?

A Drinking plenty of water and making sure I get enough sleep.

Q How did you get into swimming?

A I started swimming because my parents thought it was vital that my siblings and I knew water safety. We enjoyed it so much that we started taking part in small meets and then bigger ones.

I started competitive swimming at eight but stopped when I was 17 to study marketing at the Queensland University of Technology.

I graduated when I was 20 and felt that I was too young to join the workforce. My dad suggested that I return to competitive swimming.

After three years of not doing any exercise, I managed to get back into the national team after eight months of training.

Q Was there ever a time when you weren't fit and fab?

A I had a persistent cough for a month at the beginning of this year. No medication seemed to help, so I had an X-ray done. It showed that 80 per cent of my right lung had collapsed.

I was a little scared because the doctor said I was at a high risk of going into cardiac arrest. A tube was inserted into my chest to release the air around the lung so that it could re-expand.

I was out of action for a month after that and returning to training was hard.

My hopes to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics were dashed. I'm now aiming to return to top form for next year's SEA Games.

Q What is your diet like?

A Breakfast: Oatmeal with almond milk, a bit of cinnamon and a spoonful of peanut butter topped with blueberries and raspberries.

Lunch and dinner: Brown rice or sweet potato, salmon, chicken or beef, and spinach, tomatoes or lettuce.

Snack: Granola mixed with Greek yogurt and blueberries.

Q What are your indulgences?

A I love potato chips. I find it hard to stay away from them.

Q What do you do to relax and how do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

  • Bio Box


    Age: 24

    Height: 1.79m

    Weight: 72 kg

    Ho is the reigning South-east Asian (SEA) Games 50m breaststroke champion. She won with a Games and national record time of 31.45sec last year.

    She was the first South-east Asian female swimmer to go under 32 seconds for the 50m breaststroke.

    She will be competing at the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup, which will be held on Friday and Saturday at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

    This competition will be her first since she suffered a collapsed lung in January, as she works her way back to peak condition for the SEA Games in Malaysia next year.

    Her father, Mr Ho Theam Kwee, is a businessman and her mother Wai Ying is a housewife who enjoys line dancing and long walks.

    Her older siblings - Ryan, 27, a financial analyst, and Ruth, 26, a dietitian - used to swim competitively and still go to the gym a couple of times a week to keep fit.

A I like staying home to watch a TV series or a movie. Occasionally, I'll go to the cinema with my friends or go out for a meal and chill out.

Q What are the three most important things in your life?

A God, my family and food or sleep. It's hard to pick the last one.

Q What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your body?

A I have only one dimple, on my right cheek, and I like it. Least favourite is my right shoulder. I had surgery in June to tighten it because the joint capsule was too loose. Recovery has been difficult and, most of the time, I feel like it's failing me.

Q What are your must-dos before and after training sessions?

A I eat something so that I will not be too hungry during and after training. I will also have a protein shake afterwards so that my muscles can recover quickly.

Q How important is it for you to keep up with your fitness routine?

A Very important, as swimming is a very demanding sport. I also need to exercise to be able to indulge in the foods that are not good for me.

Q What's the biggest sacrifice you have had to make to reach your current level of skill and fitness?

A Having to give up a "normal" social life. I don't think I can recall a day when I could just hang out with my schoolmates at a shopping centre after school. It was always training, school, training and home.

Q What do your family and friends say about your active lifestyle?

A My family members are really supportive. Most of my friends are my team-mates and we are all going through the same thing, which is nice. This means that I don't need to make time for them since I see them more than I see my family.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Hang out? Sorry, I have to train'. Print Edition | Subscribe