'Enlightening' trip for Singapore's open-water swimmers in KL
It was so hot at the Putrajaya Lake in Kuala Lumpur that swimmers Chantal Liew and Benedict Boon lost 3.5kg and 2kg respectively during the three-day Asian Open Water Swimming Championships, which ended yesterday.
Due to the heat, both swimmers also had headaches after their respective 10km races yesterday.
But, while the Republic's four representatives finished outside the podium in the four events, they gained valuable insight into the venue, which will host the 10km open-water swimming event in August's South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
Boon, 20, finished eighth in the men's 10km race yesterday in 2 hr 15min 51.506sec, while Erasmus Ang was ninth with a time of 2:16:19.013. Kazakhstan's Vitalay Khudyakov won the race in 2:05:26.623.
Boon was fifth among the Asean competitors, behind Malaysia's Kevin Yeap (third, 2:10:57.570), Welson Sim (fourth, 2:11:27.776) and Wong Jun Bin (seventh, 2:14:41.830) and Thailand's Peerapat (fifth, 2:12:50.276).
Liew, 18, was sixth in the women's 10km race with 2:29:41.600, while Chin Khar Yi was a spot behind with 2:33:53.930.
Liew was third-best in the Asean field, behind Malaysia's two-time Olympian Heidi Gan, who won in 2:17:00.773, and Thailand's Benjaporn Sripanomthorn (third, 2:22:50.736).
However, Indonesia and Vietnam, whose swimmers won medals in open-water swimming at the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang, did not take part. The aquatic discipline was last offered that year.
Said Liew, who also raced in the 5km event last Friday: "It has been a very enlightening trip; it's my second open water swimming competition, and the first under harsh conditions, and with high-quality opponents.
"I was really pushed to the limit and it helps me to be better prepared for the SEA Games."
While the currents at the Putrajaya Lake were calmer than that of an open sea, the heat posed a problem to the Singapore swimmers.
The water temperature was 31.9 deg C yesterday, according to Boon, above the maximum of 31 deg C allowed under Fina's regulations.
"We had to change our feeding strategy and had more stops for rehydration," Boon added.
"Also, the stops were 20 to 30 metres off the main route, so we really have to think about our feeding strategy at the SEA Games, where the weather could be even hotter."
National Training Centre head coach Gary Tan was happy with the Singaporeans' performances in Kuala Lumpur.
"The performances were good compared to our Asian counterparts, and this was a good test for us as we could use it to understand the course and also figure what is our best strategy going forward," Tan told The New Paper from KL.