SINGAPORE – The Republic’s young swimmers stole the show at the China Life 48th Singapore National Age Group (SNAG) Swimming Championships on Friday (March 17), with Zachary Ian Tan and Gan Ching Hwee breaking national Under-14 records in the men’s 400m individual medley and women’s 200m freestyle respectively.
Up-and-coming young athlete Zachary had bettered his previous mark of 4:40.37s (400m IM) in the morning’s heats after clocking 4:39.97. The 13-year-old was on fire in the evening as he lowered the mark with his finals swim of 4:35.51 at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Teenager Ching Hwee then made history with a record-breaking swim in the 200m freestyle, clocking 2:05.56 to better Christel Bouvron’s Under-14 mark of 2:06.40 from 1998.
Ching Hwee’s coach Eugene Chia was surprised to see his young charge breaking Bouvron’s 19-year-old record, as he said: “It was not something that we were aiming for as we were just looking to better her personal best (in the 200m freestyle).
“Because she is still very young, the shorter events are more challenging for her, so (breaking the record) was a pleasant surprise.”
Three swimmers – Lionel Khoo, Pang Sheng Jun, and Quah Ting Wen – also posted SEA Games ‘A’ qualifying times in the men’s 100m breaststroke, men’s 400m individual medley and women’s 100m backstroke.
Pang, who won the silver in the 400IM at the 2015 SEA Games, was happy to book his spot at the Kuala Lumpur Games after a hectic week in the pool, as he said: “I’m pretty happy with the time. Usually when I swim the 400m IM, I go in fresh.
“However, this competition is slightly different as I had the 200m freestyle, 200m IM and then the 400m freestyle before this race, so I felt super fatigued. It’s a whole new experience for me.”
“The support from my teammates really mean a lot, and training in the NTC squad, we are all really bonded. So, even though some of us may be in the same events, we are always pushing each other to swim better times. I think it really showed at this meet. After our events, you can see my teammates cheering one another on. And that really makes a difference, especially on the fourth day when everyone is really tired.”
The SNAG championships, which is the final qualifying event for the SEA Games, ends on Sunday.