National Schools' swimming champion En Qi warms up for SEA Games
En Qi makes her mark at national schools' championship as the SEA Games looms
She clocked 26.05sec to win the B Division girls' 50m freestyle final at the National Schools Swimming Championships yesterday, beating the meet record of 26.29 she had set earlier in the heats.
But the Singapore Sports School's Hoong En Qi was not satisfied.
Speaking to The New Paper after the event at the Sports School, she said: "It's great because I managed to hit a time close to my personal best (26.01).
"But I was hoping for a 25.90, so I'm a bit disappointed."
The 16-year-old will be using the "disappointment" to motivate herself even more, as she prepares for what she hopes is a debut at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games, which will be held here in June.
"This meet is a stepping stone for me to do better at the SEA Games," said En Qi, who also won a silver in the 4x50m medley relay. "I'll get more experience with more competitions and that will mean I'm better prepared."
While she admitted to feeling "stressed" already, at the prospect of competing in front of a home crowd at her first Games, En Qi is determined not to let nerves get the better of her.
As the clock ticks down to the start of the SEA Games, which will be held here from June 5 to 16, she will increase the intensity of her twice-a-day training sessions - longer morning sessions and heavier gym work - while also consulting the sports psychologists at her school for better mental preparation.
"I'm scared of letting my team down," said En Qi, who will be one of six swimmers - along with Nur Marina Chan, Christie Chue, Rachel Tseng, Quah Ting Wen and Amanda Lim - vying to be in Singapore 4x100m freestyle relay at the Games. "But I'm also very excited about the SEA Games."
While stars Quah and Lim are certainties, the two other spots are up for grabs and the Singapore Sports School's general manager, Ng Kok Wei, is confident En Qi will rise to the occasion.
"She's been improving very fast since she joined us," said Ng.
"En Qi was already the top swimmer when she was in Primary 6 and she's improved a lot over the past year.
"With her full-time training leading up to the SEA Games and support from her loved ones, she will outdo herself."
While En Qi is hoping to compete in the region's biggest multi-sports event for the first time, boys' A Division 100m breaststroke winner Christopher Cheong will be making his second appearance at the Games, after Myanmar in 2013.
The Temasek Junior College student, who was part of the Singapore men's quartet that won gold in the 4x100m medley relay at the Myanmar Games, clocked 1min 03.53sec - 0.16 seconds off the meet record of 1:03.37sec.
"Beating the meet record would have been a bonus," said Cheong, who also won a bronze in the boys' A Division 4x50m medley relay. "But I'm pretty happy because my timing was close to my personal best of 1.03.50."
The 19-year-old will be competing in the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the SEA Games and he is pleased with his progress so far.
"My preparation has been really good, because at this time last month I still had quite a bit to work on," said Cheong, who posted a new personal best of 2:16.70sec in the 200m breaststroke at last month's Singapura Finance Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships.
"I feel good approaching the SEA Games, and I think I can win a medal."
ACS (I) and Raffles reign, again
CLEAN SWEEP: (from left) The C, B and A Division teams from ACS (I) on the podium yesterday. - PHOTO: ST
The conclusion of the National Schools Swimming Championships yesterday saw Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and the Raffles family assert their usual dominance.
ACS (I) emerged overall champions in all three divisions of the boys' category, while Raffles Girls' School (RGS) swept the overall girls' titles in the B and C divisions. Raffles Institution's girls' team were crowned overall champions in the A Division.
Swimmers from both schools credited their success to strong support from their coaching staff, parents and friends.
Kevin Ong, who won four golds at the meet for ACS (I), said: "This dominance cannot be attributed to just swimmers alone. We've had a lot of guidance from our coaches, not to mention support from our teachers, parents and friends.
"We couldn't have done it without them."
RGS's Cherlyn Yeoh, 14, was part of the C Division 4x50m medley relay quartet that won gold at the Singapore Sports School yesterday.
She said: "The atmosphere was great and the support from our coach and school really played a big part."
RGS have won the overall title for both the B and C divisions for the past 11 years, and the school will continue to pull out the stops to ensure their successful run continues.
"We will definitely continue to work hard," said Cherlyn. "We want to continue winning the double championship."