Zheng Wen benefiting from training with Cordes
Singapore swim star Zheng Wen reaps benefits of training with America's Cordes
He finished the recent South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil as the edition's most bemedalled athlete with 12 medals (seven golds, four silvers and one bronze).
And Singapore's Quah Zheng Wen kept his fine momentum going by completing a clean sweep of four golds at the Neo Garden 11th Singapore National Swimming Championships.
The 18-year-old, who yesterday added the 100m freestyle (49.96sec) and 4x100m medley relay (3:47.48) titles to his 100m backstroke (54.65) and 100m butterfly (54.04) wins from Friday, said that he is benefiting from training alongside 21-year-old Kevin Cordes.
The American, who holds his country's records in the 100m and 200m breaststroke (short course), is the first swimmer under the Singapore Swimming Association's (SSA) Foreign Athlete Sparring Programme, set up by the SSA and Singapore Sports Institute to further improve swimming standards.
Speaking after the three-day competition at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, Zheng Wen said: "Having Kevin around with the team has been an eye-opening experience.
"It's been great to learn how a top athlete trains, conditions himself and performs every day.
"It's more of observation than anything. It's taught us a thing or two about the rigours of being at the very highest level.
"But the World Championships are coming up, and especially now that it's just after the SEA Games, it's given me a little bit of encouragement to know that I can still hit certain times.
"I think I did all right, I posted some decent times in the events I participated in.
"But, of course, I'm still a bit tired, but I did okay in my pet events (100m backstroke and 100m butterfly)."
A fine showing at the Fina World Championships in Kazan, Russia, from July 24 to Aug 9, is next in Quah's sights.
While the event will be at another level altogether, he is glad to show that his form hasn't dipped after what has been an energy-sapping SEA Games.
Said Zheng Wen, who won the men's 200m butterfly event at the Spanish Open in March to earn a ticket to next year's Rio Olympics: "I'm still pretty tired after the SEA Games, so (the National Swimming Championships) is a good platform for me to test myself and gauge my consistency.
"I might have a ticket to Rio but right now it's all about the World Championships.
"I don't know yet what events I'll be swimming in when the tournament comes around, but I'm pretty excited to get going at a major meet after the SEA Games."
Meanwhile, Cordes demonstrated his prowess in the pool, too.
He won in the 50m (27.54), 100m (1:00.27) and 200m (2:11.97) breaststroke B finals, which are meant for non-Singaporeans.
The 1.96m-tall Illinois native said: "It's a good warm-up for me just before the Worlds, and it's given me the chance to build up and work on the finer details performance-wise at a competitive level," he said.
"The Worlds are only about five weeks away, so it's a chance to keep up my levels too."
“Having Kevin around with the team has been an eye-opening experience... It’s taught us a thing or two about the rigours of being at the very highest level.”
— Singapore’s Quah Zheng Wen (left) on American swimmer Kevin Cordes (right)