Written By: Vladyslava Maznytska
Throughout the years of swimming the thought of “What is next?” has crossed my mind a countless number of times. I believe that life is a sequence of choices and each one has brought me to where I am today. A few months ago, I felt like I was not ready to say ‘goodbye’ to swimming and chose to stay in college and swim for the fifth year. Amanda Lim, however, chose to have it all.
From Singapore, she was going through a recruitment process to swim at University of Florida in 2011, but unfortunately, did not meet all the NCAA requirements. “It was ten years ago” Amanda says, “I did not know anything about how to apply to colleges in the US and there was no one to help me through the process.” She then adds that part of the reason why she never got to go was the cultural perception of sport in Singapore. There, it was not viewed as something that could potentially become a profession, therefore it does not attract much funding and sponsorships to make a living.
Amanda always aspired to become a doctor and work in healthcare industry, so she stayed at home and went to school there, studying Sports Science and Management and continuing to swim competitively. Her family has pushed her from the beginning, and by the age of 15 she was on the National team. Today Amanda is the definition of perfection in the Southeast Asia swimming sprinting world. Undefeated in 12 years in the blue ribbon 50m freestyle at the SEA Games, she has also won a total of 28 SEA Games medals and represented Singapore in various international meets, including the World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the Youth Olympic Games. And despite popular opinion in her homeland, she decided she could have that all and a degree.
“I worked in a healthcare company in Singapore and had a full-time position, but I kept thinking to myself: this job is good, but I want do more of what I am passionate about” Amanda admits. According to her, work has always been in the second place, and she could not help but wonder if there is something else out there for her.
Around the same time life brought her together with Carl de Vries, a Founder and Director of Athletic Inc, a high-performance gym for the athletes in Singapore, and that is where her idea of taking her passion of swimming to the next level came to life. With Carl they launched the Athletic Inc Academy, an athletes-led platform to empower athletes.
“Apart from the customized training, at the Academy we want to give the athletes an opportunity to explore the non-athletic part of swimming, or any other sport,” Amanda explains, “For example, how does the recruitment and job placement processes look, how to build a flexible training and work schedule.” She adds, that at the Academy they want the athletes to know that they do not have to retire after high school or college, that there is an unconventional way.
And I believe that a platform like Athletic Academy is unconventional and very special, because life after swimming – or any other sport – is new and, frankly, scary. It is not only learning how to do your own taxes and pay bills, but also how to live without a huge chunk of what has been your purpose for the past 10-15 years. And having a resource like Amanda’s project is a breath of fresh air and a new beginning for both young and experienced professional athletes.
But educating athletes is not the only Academy’s mission – while working in the healthcare Amanda saw similarities between a high-performance athletic life and corporate world. Therefore, they came up with inspirational and motivational talks that they sell to companies in their “corporate talks packages.”
“Corporate companies invite psychologists and performance coaches to speak to the workers all the time” says Amanda, “And we figured that if there is anyone to teach about resilience and high-performance mindset it’s the athletes.” As a part of their educational programs, they invite different athletes – and right now the Academy is connected to about 200 Olympians – to speak about their experiences, perseverance, and discipline and how that can be applied in corporate workplace.
Amanda sounds very passionate and excited when she speaks about the Academy, its vision and mission. She describes her purpose as the Chief Inspiration Officer at the AI as putting her experiences in perspective, learning from them, and giving back to the community by providing other athletes at the Academy with the opportunities to take them to where they want to be. “No one was doing it,” she laughs, “so we did.”
Personally, I think that a platform like AI Academy truly is something that a lot of athletes, especially internationally, are lacking. There still are ambitions, aspirations, high hopes, and dreams even after graduating high school or senior year of college. But there is not enough knowledge in what to do and support in how to do it. Sometimes we need a third party to tell us “There is a different way.” And it gifts the athletes with the most important and valuable thing – choice.
Amanda Lim, 28, who has recently just started training towards the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, is also a Chief Inspiration Officer at the Athletic Inc (AI) Academy. She is also a high-performance trainer at AI. A cat lover has two adorable cats at home. Loves to chill under the sun and in front of the TV with Netflix on for some me time.