Lopez confident of taking 'a good number' of swimmers to Rio
If all goes well, national coach confident Singapore can send 'good number' of swimmers to Rio
He is holding his cards close to his chest, but national swim coach Sergio Lopez is confident Singapore will be able to send a "good number" of swimmers to the Rio Olympics in August.
His charges are headed into their final Olympic qualifier later this week, at the Singapura Finance 47th Singapore National Age-Group Swimming Championships (Snag) at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Quah Ting Wen and Co. have had months of training ahead of this meet, including a training camp in the United States over the turn of the year, as well as intensive training here after returning from the US.
Lopez said the swimmers in his National Training Centre (NTC) squad have been focusing on race speed and power over the last couple of months, including time in the weights room and trying to transfer the strength gained into the pool.
Asked if that would translate into more "A" timings at the Snag, which starts on Wednesday, Lopez said: "I am not going to say anything... that would put pressure on the kids, but I think it's going to be a very good competition for them.
"They have trained very well and I am very happy with their improvements.
"If they allow themselves to perform and, with a bit of luck... we can have a good number of kids going to the Olympic Games."
'A' CUTS FOR RIO
Only Quah Zheng Wen and US-based Joseph Schooling have made the "A" cuts for Rio, which guarantee them a place on the starting block in Brazil.
Eight other swimmers - Danny Yeo, Pang Sheng Jun, Quah Ting Wen, Amanda Lim, Hoong En Qi, Tao Li, Quah Jing Wen and Samantha Yeo - are on "B" cuts, although Tao Li has indicated that she will sit out of these Olympics.
Fina, aquatics' world body, will first disburse Olympic slots to "A" qualifiers across all swimming events after the end of qualifying in July, before distributing the remaining slots to the top-ranked "B" swimmers.
The NTC team have had to endure setbacks in the past few months, when Yeo, 25, and Ho, 23, suffered from dengue fever and a collapsed lung respectively.
Lopez said: "It's unfortunate what happened to Danny and Roanne, but we have to keep moving forward.
"Roanne is slowly getting back and getting ready to qualify for the Asian Swimming Championships in November... while Danny has been swimming very well. If he is able to allow himself to swim, he will do very well (at the Snag)."
Last week, Singapore Sports Institute's head of high performance Richard Gordon said he was "confident" Singapore would be able to send their biggest-ever swim team to the Olympics this year.
A record eight swimmers represented the Republic at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, while five swimmers went to the last Games in London in 2012.
Lopez reiterated that "a good number" will go, and added: "I believe in these kids, they believe in themselves... I just hope everything works out the way the swimmers have been working.
"From what the practices indicate, they should be swimming very well."
“They have trained very well and I am very happy with their improvements. If they allow themselves to perform and, with a bit of luck... we can have a good number of kids going to the olympic games.”
— National swim coach Sergio Lopez