Teenager smashes record as swimmers begin charge for SEA Games

Teenager smashes record as swimmers begin charge for SEA Games
Francis Fong finished first in the men's 100m backstroke in 55.85sec to meet the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the SEA Games. Photo: Singapore Swimming Association

Teenager smashes record as swimmers begin charge for SEA Games

SINGAPORE – The race for tickets to the South-east Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur got under way at the China Life 48th Singapore National Age Group (Snag) Swimming Championships on Tuesday (March 14), with swimmers Danny Yeo, Francis Fong, Christie May Chue, and teenager Gan Ching Hwee claiming their spots in the men’s 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, women’s 100m breaststroke and women’s 400m freestyle respectively.

Competing at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, Yeo and Fong finished second and first in their respective events in 1:49.37 and 55.85sec to meet the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the biennial Games. Chue also won a spot in the 100m breaststroke with her time of 1:11.77, while Rachel Marjorie Tseng met the ‘B’ mark after clocking 4:21.32s in the women’s 400m freestyle.

But the achievement of the day was reserved for Ching Hwee of the Chinese Swimming Club, as the young swimmer clocked 4:22.76 in the morning’s 400m freestyle heats to rewrite Quah Ting Wen’s 12-year-old national Under-14 mark of 4:24.73.

The 13-year-old then bettered her own mark hours later in the finals with her time of 4:19.61 to earn a coveted spot in the SEA Games, where she is expected to face the likes of Malaysian veteran Khoo Cai Lin and Vietnamese sensation Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, the defending silver and gold medallists in the event.   

Methodist Girls’ School student Ching Hwee, who won three bronze medals at last year’s Asean School Games, is looking forward to her SEA Games debut in August, as she said: “I am happy and quite surprised with my evening swim. I was really nervous at the start because I was wondering if I could better my time after giving a 100 per cent effort during the heats in the morning.

“My coach and I analysed the morning race, and he gave me good tips, especially on my turns, so that helped me. Since last year, meeting the SEA Games qualifying time has been one of my goals, and I am very excited.”

National Training Centre head coach Gary Tan was delighted with the results from today’s meet. “The good thing from today is that there is quite a big depth (in the squad) coming along with the youngsters,” he said. “The clubs are pulling their weight and doing a really good job with developing some of them.

“I am most satisfied with Danny, who hasn’t had a personal best timing for such a long time, and he came into this race feeling pumped and ready to swim, finishing with a personal best.

“It is good to see the younger ones coming up, and it is also good to see the older swimmers stepping it up as well.”

The Snag Swimming Championships, which end on Sunday, are the final local qualifying event for swimmers to earn their spots in the Kuala Lumpur Games.

Swimming siblings Quah Ting Wen, Zheng Wen and Jing Wen, Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and Yeo had previously earned their tickets to the 2017 Games, with more swimmers looking to join them at this week’s championships