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As part of our Day in the Life series, The Style Sheet spends the day with swimmer Yvette Kong. With 11 years of competitive swimming under her belt — including representing Hong Kong at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro — Yvette knows a thing or two about a hard-working meal plan and an even harder-working workout. Here, we join her on a typical Saturday of training. 

Early Morning

‘On Saturdays I usually use the pool and gym facilities at The Hong Kong Country Club. My alarm buzzes at 7a.m., but I find it difficult to bounce straight out of bed so I hit snooze and give myself another ten minutes. During that time, I try to focus on mindful, positive thoughts and take a few deep breaths to set the day off right. Once I’m up, I’ll fix myself breakfast. After you’ve been sleeping for eight or nine hours, your body is drained of an energy source, which needs to be replenished. If I have the time, I prefer real food – raw ingredients like avocado and poached eggs. But if there’s only time for something to grab and go, I’ll make a plant protein smoothie with chia seeds, almond milk and a mix of superfood and fruits like banana or apple, which I blitz up in a blender.’

Left: An afternoon gym session at the Hong Kong Country Club. Right: Yvette at the Hong Kong Country Club’s swimming pool


‘Before I start my morning swim, I get my body loosened up and activated with 15 to 20 minutes of stretching. Then I swim laps for around an hour and a half to two hours, which is usually around three to four kilometres. It’s not that far – but it’s not really about the distance, it’s the quality of the swim that’s important. Sometimes when I need to recover faster after a training session or between races at a competition, I’ll follow a swim with a session of jumping between an ice-cold bath and a hot jacuzzi, which helps with blood flow. Then it’s time for a quick replenish of food. Sometimes it’ll be another source of protein like eggs and avocado, or something easier like a muesli bar or a bunch of nuts. A small tub of yogurt and some berries used to be my go-to, but I’m trying to cut down on my dairy intake.’


 ‘Before lunch, I’ll try to have another snooze for an hour or so, catch-up on emails or hit the mental gym with some positive thinking exercises. Usually my lunch meal go-to consists of poultry and carbohydrates, but on Saturdays I like to eat out with my friends. Usually we’ll go somewhere in Soho. I love breakfast foods and large American-sized portions, and I’ll usually get something with eggs.’

Yvette swimming laps in the pool


‘Then I’ll hit the gym. My training regime is 50-50 split between gym and pool. Gym is actually really important. I can practice my techniques in the pool but I can’t really build up the same level of strength that I can in the gym. It can also be harder to train bodily awareness – such as knowing whether your body is in the right position – in the water. It’s a lot easier to work on that skill on dry land, and then transfer it into the pool later. To begin with, I’ll warm up with ten to 15 minutes of cardio. It’s a minimal amount because cardio is covered in my morning swim. Then I’ll work with my coach on strength and conditioning training, such as hardcore lifting and squats. I’ll also do ten to 15 minutes of cool-down. Once I’m finished, I’ll have another protein snack, like nuts. Every week or two I might also get a sports massage to relax my muscles and joints and ease tensions.’


‘I am what I eat – all my meals are pretty health-conscious. Less carbohydrates, and more protein than veggies. I’ll also usually try and avoid rice and pasta. When I’m cooking for myself, I love meals that can be easily baked in the oven, so I can throw it in and not really have to think about it. It’s usually a high-quality piece of meat, such as chicken, and some complex carbohydrates, such as yams and taro. After dinner, I appreciate at least 30 minutes to myself to zone out and wind down, and if I need to hit the mental gym again, I will. I also might watch an episode or two of something on Netflix. I’ll then have another snack, like carrots and hummus, before I go to bed at around 11p.m.’