This SEA Games 2015 athlete tells Shape about his training regime and living with a chronic disease. By Estelle Low
Photo: Sportz and Fitness Group Singapore
National swimmer Clement Lim has the body of a Greek god: broad, muscular shoulders, rippling abs, even tan… In a few days, you’ll catch him at the SEA Games 2015, roughing it out in the 50m freestyle, 50m breaststroke and 4x100m freestyle relay categories.
But you probably can’t tell he’s battling a lifelong condition, ankylosing spondylitis (AS). A form of arthritis that affects the spine, AS causes inflammation of the spinal joints, which can lead to severe pain and discomfort. Since Clement was diagnosed in August 2012, the 22-year-old has been on daily medication to keep his condition under control.
Last year, a major flare-up left him unable to swim for a month. “One morning, the pain was so bad I couldn’t even move. I had to call for my mum to help me get out of bed,” the sport science and management student at Nanyang Technological University recalls.
Photo: Adrian Seetho
That ordeal made him more eager to return to the sport. A few months later, Clement joined the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2014 Asian Games, scoring a personal best of 23.26s for 50m freestyle and 50.61s for 100m freestyle.
Though he knows that intense physical activities could trigger another painful episode, Clement is not about to give up swimming. “On regular days, my spine feels stiff and there’s a blunt pain. I just have to live with it,” he says.
To prep for the SEA Games, Clement has been training for five hours daily on weekdays, doing a combination of swimming and gym exercises. On weekends, he does calisthenics workouts at a nearby park. To keep himself pumped, Clement – recently appointed a Jabra ambassador – tunes in to electronic dance music during training, and hard rock songs on his Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds just before races.
Here are his favourite tracks.
Tremor – Dimitri Vegas, Martin Garrix, Like Mike
Turbulence – Steve Aoki & Laidback Luke ft. Lil Jon
Animals – Martin Garrix
Tsunami – DVBBS & Borgeous
Before a competition:
Kickstart My Heart – Motley Crue
Psycho – Muse
Back In Black – AC/DC
Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
Live And Let Die – Guns N’ Roses
The SEA Games swimming competition will be held at the OCBC Aquatic Centre from June 6 to 11, 2015.