4x100m IM squad score a world first for Singapore
Francis Fong, Samuel Khoo, Dylan Koo and Darren Lim made history last night when they became the first Singapore relay quartet to reach a world swimming final.
They clocked a new national Under-17 record of 3min 47.36sec to finish ninth in the 4x100m individual medley heats of the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships yesterday morning and were put on the reserve list.
They were told of their place in the final yesterday afternoon, when Poland failed to report on time.
Dylan, 16, said: "When we heard the news at the Aquatic Centre, we immediately readied ourselves and we were quite pumped up because we knew that we had a second shot at the Under-17 record."
They were close, but missed out on another new mark with their 3:47.40 swim to finish eighth in the final.
Also, three other national Under-17 relay records were rewritten during the six-day meet - the women's 4x100m medley, the men's 4x200m free and the men's 4x100m free.
National assistant coach Gary Tan said relays were the focus of the swimmers' training when the 22-member squad were named in July.
He said: "Through relays, we started to see the kids coming together to bond as a team. The times also started to drop, both individually and as a team.
"This is the first time that we have a swim team in a final at a major (world) meet, whether at junior or senior level, and I hope it translates into the senior level."
The former national swimmer also acknowledged that the relay focus is to build up Singapore's relay capabilities to qualify for future Olympics, especially Tokyo 2020.
Competing among giants - many swimmers at the Fina World Juniors are taller than the Singaporeans - has given the local athletes more confidence.
Francis, 15, said: "For many of us it was our first international meet... many of us came into this meet fearful because a lot of the foreign swimmers were taller and stronger than us.
"But, through this meet, we've learned that in order to do our best, we have to overcome our fears and that, in itself, was a challenge to become better swimmers."
Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy was happy with how the competition had turned out, as well as the performances of the local swimmers.
He said: "It is still early stages of their development, but I think they are on track."