True friendship goes a long way

Yesterday's 100m freestyle S5 race was the first time in ages that I've raced against (Yip) Pin Xiu.

It's not completely unusual for her to swim up a few classes but it's definitely been a while.

She's my best friend and I've known her for more than 10 years.

Not everyone understands the things we go through, so it really helps to have someone in the same boat as me.

If I was doing this alone, training full time as a swimmer, it would have been so much tougher.

We share similar goals and experience the same challenges. If I'm feeling particularly unsure before a race, I can talk to her and she's there to assure me.

I've seen her grow up and I was so, so proud of Pin Xiu when she won gold at the 2008 Paralympics.

I remember our first training session together. She was really quiet, which is not the case now. She's more sociable, and definitely more talkative.

She probably thought I was arrogant and I didn't really talk to people I don't know.

But I'm much better now.

We have both changed, for the better, and part of that is because of each other.

Even though we're quite different - she only drinks tea while I drink way too much coffee - we've helped each other grow.

After more than 10 years, I think we're at a point of our friendship where we're comfortable sitting in silence with each other. That's a good place to be.

Even though we've gone overseas many times for competitions - we usually share the same room and we take turns to be messy - this year was the first time we went on a holiday together.

We went to the Gold Coast in Australia and did skydiving. It was my idea and that was a surprise. I'm not the daredevil. She is. She likes roller coasters, the faster the better.

But I was the one to suggest skydiving. It was amazing, especially sharing that with Pin Xiu.

It was the first time I felt what it must be like to be a bird. I felt so free.

Competing at the ASEAN Para Games at home is special and is another milestone for both of us.

I'm really happy to have her here with me. After our race, we hugged and gave each other a pat on the back.

I won but I know Pin Xiu will be up in the stands cheering me in my next race.

This article was first published on December 5, 2015.
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