Singapore's swimming future is bright
Singapore's 23 golds match their best haul of 2015 at home, with a near-perfect 5 from 6 on final day
The final day of SEA Games action in the pool went swimmingly for Singapore, with the team matching their best-ever gold haul at the biennial Games last night.
They nearly completed a clean sweep of the six events yesterday, with Christie Chue's silver in the women's 100m breaststroke representing the only one that got away.
Singapore's swimmers proved to be sharks at New Clark City Aquatics Center, albeit with a nose for gold rather than blood as they racked up 23 golds - equalling their most successful Games in 2015 on home soil.
It is also comfortably more than their best away haul of 19 in Kuala Lumpur two years ago.
Said national training centre head coach Gary Tan: "It's like a wish come true for the team. The team just stuck to the game plan and every single day they just worked hard...
"I cannot be more proud. This team, with all the younger kids coming through and the way they have been developing, there are more names in there... (than) just (Quah) Zheng Wen, Joseph (Schooling) and (Quah) Ting (Wen).
"So the future looks good for Singapore swimming."
What makes Singapore's performances in the Philippines more impressive is the improved diversity of gold medallists.
The 12 swimmers who won individual races - including first-time gold medallists Elena Pedersen, 15; Gan Ching Hwee, 16; and Jonathan Tan, 17 - in Clark is double the number from the 2015 Games.
Then, Tao Li, Schooling and Zheng Wen accounted for 14 individual golds among themselves.
At the 2017 Games, there were seven individual race winners.
On his young teammates' performances in Clark, the 23-year-old Zheng Wen said: "It's very impressive.
"We're getting older and we don't know how long we are going to be on the same relay (team)...
"So it's always nice seeing the next generation of swimmers coming up and pushing the boundaries...
"I'm just pumped to maybe be a spectator and watch my younger sister (18-year-old quadruple gold medallist Jing Wen)... it'll be fun."
To put the swimmers' haul from the Philippines in perspective, Singapore won over 60 per cent of all gold medals on offer.
Over six days, they set 26 personal bests, nine national records, 15 meet records and made three Olympic "A" qualifying timings.
Despite surpassing Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy's target of 19 golds, national swimming head coach and performance director Stephan Widmer wants to improve the talent pipeline.
He said: "Singapore came together... We had so many first-timers here that won gold medals, that shows the pipeline is starting to build.
"We're not there yet, we want more upward pressure from more younger kids coming through.
"I want coaches to dream as well, to put more swimmers in the team, but it's starting to go in the right direction."
Last night definitely went in the right direction from the start, with Ching Hwee winning the women's 800m freestyle.
It was a sign of things to come as Zheng Wen won the 200m butterfly, before Jonathan and Ting Wen starred in Singapore's fifth and sixth one-two finishes of the Games.
The 4x100m medley relay team of Schooling, Darren Chua, Lionel Khoo and Zheng Wen then wrapped up a historic meet by sealing Singapore's clean sweep of the relay events for the third Games running.