Singapore swimmers raring to go at SEA Games
Schooling hopes to lead young team to 'special things' in Kuala Lumpur
For the past week or two, swimmer Gan Ching Hwee has been tickling the ivories in her free time at home.
The 14-year-old, who has Grade 4 piano certification, has been playing Pachelbel's Canon in D to destress as she readied herself for her SEA Games debut in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"I am quite excited and also a little bit nervous, to be honest," said the Chinese Swimming Club athlete yesterday at Changi Airport Terminal 2.
"My coach Eugene (Chia) told me that the work done before the SEA Games will translate into results, and I believe that during the preparation I have put in quite a lot of work," added the teenager, who will swim in the women's 400m and 800 freestyle, 400m individual medley and the 4x200m freestyle relay.
Ching Hwee is among 11 debutants in this year's swim team, which have an average age of 18.8 years.
The Methodist Girls' School student left for Kuala Lumpur yesterday with the rest of Singapore's 28-strong swim team - Benedict Boon had left earlier to compete in yesterday morning's marathon swimming - along with team officials.
LIGHT AND JOVIAL
At the airport check-in area yesterday afternoon, swimmers, officials, family members, friends and fans mingled freely.
The mood was light and jovial, although there was also a tinge of nervous energy.
Senior swimmers The New Paper spoke to said the team's preparations have given them the confidence to do well at the Games, even the debutants.
Said Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, 22, who will compete in three individual and three relay events: "The team look good, I am ready to go and I think this should be an exciting meet. We are all very eager to start racing.
"I have no doubt that this team will gel well together and. under the guidance of the seniors, hopefully we can do special things."
Danny Yeo, 27, added: "Everyone has been looking very sharp and everyone looks ready for the Games.
"We just can't wait to go to Malaysia and race hard. I am sure that everyone will step up (their game)."
Two-time Olympian Quah Ting Wen bemoaned celebrating yet another birthday away from Singapore - she turned 25 yesterday.
Expressing her optimism of a good performance from the team, she said: "A lot of them (younger swimmers) are very talented, and with the right guidance from the older ones - not just verbal, but also by showing them, and we've got some good mentors on the team - I think we will be okay, as long as everyone has one another's backs."
The swimmers clinched an unprecedented haul of 23 golds, 12 silvers and seven bronzes in the last Games on home ground two years ago.
Schooling claimed nine of those golds, while Quah Zheng Wen bagged seven golds, four silvers and a bronze from 12 events.
While the duo have cut back on their events in KL - Zheng Wen will compete in seven events - many are expecting Team Singapore to maintain their status as the region's top swim team.
With a slight smile, Quah said: "Hopefully, it'd be good. I am quite proud of that (reputation), so I'd want to (help maintain it)."