Fun, fun, fun for swimming champions
Despite the star-studded line-up, one would have been hard-pressed to expect season or personal bests at the inaugural Prudential Singapore Swim Stars at the Singapore Sports Hub's OCBC Aquatic Centre last night.
After all, the one-day invitational meet, boasting 12 Olympic gold medallists and 21 world champions, was held right after the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing and the European Championships in Berlin.
The Singapore meet also comes right before the Incheon Asian Games later this month.
But it didn't stop both the swimmers and the 2,500-strong crowd from having fun.
The spectators were cheering wildly throughout the three hour-long event, with over-zealous schoolchildren even overrunning the makeshift barricade to stray slightly into the VIP area for pictures with the men's 100m breaststroke winner, Fabio Scozzoli.
"It was really, really good fun, everyone was just having a great time... it is not stressful like big competitions. It was nice and chill," said Olympic champion breaststroke specialist Ruta Meilutyte, who won the women's 100m event.
American Olympic champion Nathan Adrian, who won both the men's 50m and 100m freestyle events, added: "It was a blast.
"That must have been some of the most fun I've had at a swim meet since I was a little kid. That was absolutely amazing."
But the 25-year-old also feels that the meet can be even more competitive in the future.
He said: "The timing (of this event) is something that has to be delicate, there were three major international meets before this event and one coming up, so it's a little dicey this year.
"But, as years go on people will figure it out. You have high-quality athletes here who are used to winning. People will figure out how to win, and win with fast times."
The meet's central theme was the "face-off" format in the 50m free events - nine swimmers will race in the respective blue-riband events, with the top four in each progressing to the second round under an hour later. The top two swimmers will then go man-to-man in the "super final".
This is in contrast with other meets, where heats are typically held in the mornings and the finals in the evening on the same day.
On the new format, Australian Melanie Schlanger - who won both the 50m and 100m freestyle - said: "It is definitely exciting, it's a little tough but a lot of fun for both the swimmers and the crowd."
The organisers and the Sports Hub will have to smoothen out some kinks though.
The sound system and the giant fans above the facility malfunctioned briefly midway through the meet; the crowd were at times allowed to overflow into the VIP area, and there wasn't a proper place for the media to conduct post-race interviews.
But the swim stars loved it and vow to be back next year.
Schlanger said: "Swimming is meant to be fun, and this was fun. We train so hard for competitions, and we are supposed to enjoy it."
S’pore swim stars winners
- 50m freestyle: Nathan Adrian (US), 21.72sec
- 100m freestyle: Nathan Adrian (US), 48.46
- 100m backstroke: David Plummer (US), 53.51
- 100m breaststroke: Fabio Scozzoli (Ita), 1 min 00.37sec
- 50m freestyle: Melanie Schlanger (Aus), 24.67
- 100m freestyle: Melanie Schlanger (Aus), 53.51
- 100m backstroke: Emily Seebohm (Aus), 58.99
- 100m butterfly: Jeanette Ottesen (Den), 57.34
- 100m breaststroke: Ruta Meilutyte (Ltu), 1:05.73