Over the past two weeks, the China Life Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championship for juniors and seniors, have been taking place at the OCBC Aquatic Centre. An annual high performance swimming meet, this is the first national swimming competition during the year that sees swimmers from the different club associates complete in their age groups.
Senior segment concluded last night
In the senior segment, which had concluded this week, two time Olympian Quah Ting Wen set a new national record in the Women’s 50-Metre Freestyle event. She swam 25.27 seconds in the finals, eclipsing the previous national record of 25.38 seconds set by teammate Amanda Lim at the first Asian Youth Games held in Singapore in 2009. With her result, Quah also met the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the South East Asian (SEA) Games.
Said Ting, “I’m very pleased as this was not something I was aiming for. The 50m free has always been an on-off event for me as you need to have a perfect swim to do well. I’m happy because today is the first time I have swum consistently in both the morning heats and afternoon finals. I was having fun out there.”
Lim, a four time SEA Games medallist, had come in a close second with 25.50 seconds in the Women’s 50 Metre Freestyle. She said “It has been quite a rough couple of months after the Rio Olympics and it was hard to get into the rhythm of things. But we learnt from it and we are now able to race fast, regardless of the event, whether it is heats or finals. In the past we usually took it easy in the morning’s heats and then go all out in the finals at night.”
Lim added, “In a 50m freestyle race, anything can happen and she (Ting) had a really good race today and got my national record. That will be a motivating factor for me to train up and take back my title.”
Ting also meets ‘A’ qualifying mark for 100 Metre Backstroke
Ting also met the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the 100 Metre Backstroke, winning with a time of 1:04:28 minutes. She said, “I am very pleased with qualifying for the SEA Games because I didn’t feel fully prepared for this event and I was actually very nervous coming into it. I only started proper training in January.”
Her sister Quah Jing Wen broke the meet record for 15-17 year olds with her time of 2:17:50 in the Women’s 200 Metre Butterfly. She bettered her performance with a time of 2:16:64 minutes in the finals.
Earlier during the competition, in the 50 Metre Butterfly, Ting also met the SEA Games ‘A’ qualifying mark when she touched home in the morning heats with a time of 27.41 seconds. She lowered her time in the finals, completing the race in 27.22 seconds.
She wasn’t too pleased with this result though. Said Ting, “I put a lot of pressure on myself and I have very high expectations. I am not very pleased as it’s not such a good timing. It was nothing exceptional tonight.”
Ting also won the Women’s 100 Metre Freestyle in 56.16 seconds, meeting the ‘B’ qualifying time for the SEA Games. She was joined by Jasmine Alkhaldi from the Philippines, followed by sister Jing who placed third. Lim, Natasha Ong, Nur Marina Chan and Christie May Chue also met ‘B’ qualifying times in the event.
Both Ting and Jing also did well in the 100 Metre Butterfly, meeting the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the SEA Games at the event, swimming 1:00:62 minutes and 1:00:83 minutes respectively.
Lionel Khoo qualifies for Men’s 200 Metre Breaststroke
Breaststroke swimmer Lionel Khoo made the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the SEA Games, winning the Men’s 200 Metre Breaststroke on the third day of the senior competition with a time of 2:15:27 minutes, eclipsing his record of 2:16:19 minutes set in 2016.
Said Khoo, “My success is attributed to my strong training squad and without them, I don’t think this would have been possible. I think my chances for the SEA Games is pretty good considering my timing is pretty quick.”
Teong Tien Wei also qualified for the SEA Games in the Men’s 50m Freestyle earlier during competition, touching the wall in a fast time of 22.39 seconds. Team mate Darren Lim also become the second fastest qualifier for this event, powering through his race in the morning heats in 22.96 seconds.
Said Teong, “This morning, I had a slow start, so my coach, Richard Chng of AquaTech Swimming, asked me to work on it. Together with support from my previous coach, Gary Tan, Head Coach from National Training Centre, instructed me on what I was supposed to do and I came off the blocks fast in the final.”
Gan Ching Hwee breaks national mark
And Gan Ching Hwee met the ‘A’ qualifying time in the Women’s 400m Individual Medley event, with a time of 4:56:24 minutes during the heats and lowered her time with a 4:54:54 minutes in the finals, coming in third place at the same time. Her time also breaks the national U14 mark of 4:58:21 minutes.
Said Gan, “The first 100m of the butterfly was on target but during the backstroke leg, I really felt breathless and tired. I was wondering if I was going too slow. I wasn’t thinking about breaking the national mark during the swim but it did cross my mind before the race.”
In addition to that, Gan also smashed the Girl’s 200 Metre Freestyle U14 record, which was set 19 years ago. She finished with a time of 2:05:56 minutes, eclipsing the original record of 2:06:40 set in 1998 by Christel Bouvron Mei-Yen.
She also qualifies for the SEA Games in the above two events.
Said her coach, Eugene Chia, “It was not something that we were aiming for as we were just looking to better her personal best in the 200 Metre Freestyle. She is still very young so the shorter events are more challenging for her. Breaking the record was a pleasant surprise.”
He added, “We need to balance her development in swimming with her school commitments. We are looking forward to the SEA Games, which will be an eye-opener for her there.”
Prize presentation ceremonies for the Most Valuable Swimmers
The final day also concluded with a prize presentation ceremony, crowning the Most Valuable Swimmer for Boys and Girls aged 13-14 as well as Boys and Girls aged 15-17.
Ian Zachary Tan and Gan Ching Hwee were the two winners in the 13-14 year old age group. Tan had set two national record during the meet, in the U14 200 Metre Breaststroke and the 400 Metre Individual Medley. On the other hand, Gan came away with five U14 national records, four meet records and qualified for her first two SEA Games events.
For Boys and Girls aged 15-17, the awards went to Jonathan Tan and Christie May Chue.
Swimmers did well overall
Gary Tan, Head Coach of the National Training Centre, is happy with how the swimmers performed overall. He said, “I am very pleased with the overall performance of the swimmers. Depth is really coming through so kudos to the clubs for stepping it up. Looking at the results, I think we do have a sizeable team for the SEA Games this year.”
He added, “We are still going to wait till April 25, when the overseas swimmers are done with their events, but I feel very optimistic about our chances of sending a big, strong team to the Games and giving Malaysia a run for their money at their home ground.”