Few best times, but promising signs
SEA Games head coach Tan says with rest, S'pore swimmers may 'fly' in KL Games
There were no new national records set yesterday at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, with just a splattering of personal bests on the first day of the Neo Garden Singapore National Swimming Championships.
But still, Singapore's South-east Asia (SEA) Games coach Gary Tan was happy with what he saw in the Games-bound swimmers yesterday.
The former national swimmer explained that the swimmers are still going through high-intensity training, and even practised this week coming into this meet.
Typically, swimmers perform best after tapering their training towards a major meet.
Tan, 35, said: "They are totally exhausted. We have done tonnes of relatively high-intensity stuff and long mileage.
"They are doing a great job, racing like this when they are that fatigued... and I am praying and crossing my fingers that they are going to fly when they eventually taper."
Quah Ting Wen won the women's 50m butterfly in 27.04sec last night, just a whisker off her silver-medal winning time of 27.02sec at the 2015 SEA Games on home ground.
Hoong En Qi won the women's 100m backstroke in 1min 4.57sec, which is faster than the 1:04.80 Filipina bronze medallist Roxanne Ashley Yu clocked two years ago.
Also, in the men's 200m freestyle, Quah Zheng Wen and Danny Yeo finished first and second with 1:50.13 and 1:50.20 respectively, creditable timings for the current training phase.
They are doing a great job, racing like this when they are that fatigued... and I am praying and crossing my fingers that they are going to fly when they eventually taper.Singapore’s SEA Games swimming coach Gary Tan
Together with swim king Joseph Schooling, who clocked 1:47.79 in the men's 4x200m relay in 2015, Singapore has a good chance of stretching their winning streak in the event in Kuala Lumpur, one that started at the 2005 Games in the Philippines.
Tan said: "For Zheng Wen and Danny to do a 1:50 at this time is crazy, and with Joe (Joseph) coming on board, and when they are rested after the World Championships (in Budapest next month), I'd expect some really fast 4x200m relay times from these guys."
But, the swimmers were also reminded yesterday of the threat that other countries would pose at the Games, when Thailand's Ketin Nuttapong won the men's 200m breaststroke in 2:14.09, ahead of Singapore's Lionel Khoo (2:17.89).
Nuttapong, 25, was supposed to compete in Singapore two years ago, but was banned for four years from May 2015 after testing postive for Clenbuterol, a banned substance.
He had his ban halved and is now eligible to compete.
His timing last night bettered the gold-medal winning time of 2:14.83 by fellow Thai swimmer Radomyos Matjiur.
Nuttapong declined to be interviewed last night, but Khoo, who clinched silver in 2015, said: "What my rivals are doing is not important to me. I am just focusing on myself.
"Of course, we cannot underestimate our opponents. They have a history of doing well and are all quite fast. It should be an interesting fight between quite a few of us come SEA Games."