Team Singapore

Two more records from Vietnamese star Nguyen

It was a shy, almost sheepish smile, with which she greeted the media horde at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last night.

Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Anh Vien may be a unique swimming talent, but she still remains refreshingly normal.

She broke two South-east Asia (SEA) Games records en route to two gold medals on Saturday and yesterday she repeated the gold-and-record feat. 

The 18-year-old (above) rewrote the 200m backstroke record with a time of 2min 14.12sec and won the 200m individual medley in 2:13.53.

Nguyen has six events left to swim, and the question on everyone's lips is, can she win them all? 

"I want her to be the best swimmer in the world," said coach Dang Anh Tuan.

"I could say how many (gold medals) I think she can win, but I'd rather she just try her best." 

Nguyen herself was girlishly confident, brushing off any suggestion of fatigue despite taking on an 11-event load. 

"Yes, I think I can do well. I have a lot of energy, I just need to relax my mind, and eat a lot," she said, in halting English. 

There may have been something lost in translation, but there is a beauty in the manner she reduced the life of a swimmer to a simple mantra. 

"I just swim, just train to be better, and just swim." 

Dang is aware of the talent, but Nguyen's limitations are not something he avoids. 

Nguyen was soundly beaten by Singapore's Tao Li in the 50m butterfly yesterday, and the Vietnamese finished outside the medals, in fourth. 

"She's not a sprinter, but I want to see how she does against a sprinter, that's why she swam that event," said Dang. "She must swim, so she knows where she is - then she can get better.

"But it is very difficult for one swimmer to do a 50m (race), then swim the 800m." 

Dang refused to point to any opponent as the main obstacle standing between Nguyen and SEA Games greatness, saying: "Any competitor can beat her, and she can beat any competitor." 

In Nguyen, Dang may have found a protege who can become world-class, even. 

"I don't know why I'm good. I just train and train, swim and swim," said a giggling Nguyen, before skulking away, covering her eyes with her gold medal. 

She giggled some more as she slipped on the wet floor on her way out, but there are surely precious few who would bet on her slipping up in the pool at this Games. 

SEA GamesSwimming