SINGAPORE - Two-time Olympian Quah Ting Wen ended her campaign in the China Life 48th Singapore National Age-Group Swimming Championships in style, with a new national record in the Women's 50m freestyle.
The 24-year-old Swimfast Aquatic Club trainee clocked an impressive 25.27sec in the final on Sunday (March 19) to eclipse the previous national record of 25.38s set by teammate Amanda Lim at the 1st Asian Youth Games held in Singapore in 2009. Quah also made the 'A' qualifying mark (25.79s) for the upcoming South-east Asian (SEA) Games.
Incidentally, four-time SEA Games champion Lim finished second behind Quah in 25.50sec.
Quah, who was beaten by Lim in the 2009 and 2015 SEA Games, revealed that the new record had been unexpected as it was not something she had been gunning for.
“I'm very pleased as this was not something that I was aiming for," she said.
"The 50m free has always been an on and off event for me as you need to have a perfect swim to do well. I'm happy because today is the first time that I've swum consistently well both in the morning and afternoon. I was having fun out there. It was important to have a good result to end the meet and I'm quite proud to have finished it in this manner. Now the next step is to work hard for SEA Games."
Ever the competitive swimmer, Lim said that being beaten in her pet event will only spur her on at the Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.
“In a 50m freestyle race, anything can happen and she (Ting Wen) 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," she said.
Lionel Khoo was the final Swimfast Aquatic Club representative who made the 'A' cut for SEA Games at the meet. He clocked 28.72sec in the Men's 50m breaststroke during the heats, going under the 'A' qualifying time of 28.67. He also lowered his previous meet record of 28.44sec for the 18 and over category.
Meanwhile, Zachary Tan and Gan Ching Hwee were crowned the Most Valuable Swimmers for their respective categories on Sunday.
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student Zachary, who set two national U-14 records at the Championships in the 200m breaststroke and 400m Individual Medley, took the MVP award for Boys 13-14years old.
Ching Hwee was named the MVP for Girls 13-14 year olds after her impressive haul of five U14 national record. She also qualified for two SEA Games events (400m freestyle and 400m IM).
"I feel very privileged to be able to represent Singapore," said the Methodist Girls School.
"To be honest I did not think about qualifying for the SEA Games when the meet started. I just wanted to hit my personal best and give it my best shot. The couple of months before this I had intensive training and it helped."
Her coach, Eugene Chia, was pleased with her performance. He said: "She has shown that she is adept at the longer distance events. She is still young and 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. She has displayed a good spirit and character during this meet and I think she has won the respect of the older swimmers out there as well."
The Most Valuable Swimmer for the Boys and Girls for 15 – 17 year olds went to Jonathan Tan from Elite Swim Club and Christie May Chue from Swimfast Aquatic Club.
National Training Centre head coach Gary Tan, was a happy man at the end of the Championships which saw 12 swimmers qualifying for the SEA Games and 10 national records (Open, U17 and U14) being broken .
He said: “I am very pleased with the overall performance of the swimmers in the National Training Centre as well as all the Singapore swimmers across the board. Depth is also really coming through so kudos to the clubs for stepping it up.
"Looking at the results, I think we do have quite a sizeable team for the SEA Games this year. We are still going to wait till April 25th, 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).
"We will go there with the expectation of giving Malaysia a run for their money at their home ground. If we make sure the kids perform up to their expectations and hit their personal bests, I think we are going to have a successful SEA Games.”