Zheng Wen will have a busy world championships
Zheng Wen set for another tough schedule at world meet
He competed in an astonishing 12 events at last month's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, taking home seven golds, four silvers and a bronze.
And Singapore swimming star Quah Zheng Wen is set for another heavy load at the Fina World Championships at the Russian city of Kazan from Aug 2 to 9.
The bulk of the 11-strong Singapore team, including coach Sergio Lopez, left last night for Sibenik, Croatia, for a nine-day staging camp before travelling on to Kazan.
Zheng Wen is pencilled in for a whopping nine events, including five relays, over eight days.
While the SEA Games has a qualifiers-final format, the world championships will feature a qualifiers-semis-final format.
"It definitely will be tougher, because the world championships will be a faster meet and with more stages," said 18-year-old Zheng Wen, at the Changi Airport Terminal 1 departure hall last night.
"But I also think it will be less stressful because the meet is stretched over eight days, which is longer than the SEA Games (six days)."
Joseph Schooling will join the team from the United States, where he is based, while Nur Marina Chan, Lionel Khoo and Rachel Tseng will meet them later from Singapore.
Zheng Wen's sister Ting Wen will have the heaviest load on paper - 11 events - while Schooling has eight.
Said Ting Wen: "For the medley relay I am doing the backstroke leg, which I haven't done since the Asian Youth Games in 2009, so it will be interesting.
"For my individual events, I want to get as close to as many Olympic 'A' cuts as I can, and swim fast alongside the world-class swimmers."
Lopez acknowledged that the list - especially the two mixed relays - may be changed depending on the fitness and health levels of the swimmers.
Said the American: "I am not sure if (Zheng Wen) is going to swim in the mixed relays, they are not relevant because they are not Olympic events.
"We have a couple of swimmers who have just one event and they might go swim (the mixed relays) and have some fun.
"But, the competition is over eight days, it'd just be like training, so why not? We'll see, I'd have to sit down with everybody to see how they are during the meet."
Zheng Wen's training programme has not changed since he was granted deferment from full-time National Service earlier this month.
While he had months to prepare for the SEA Games, the teenager is heading into his third major meet in three months, including the Neo Garden Singapore National Swimming Championships last month.
And he will be headed for the Fina World Cup legs in Moscow (Aug 11-12) and Paris (Aug 15-16) after the world championships.
That is why the teenager has modest goals for Kazan.
He said: "I am definitely aiming for personal best times in all my events, but considering my training and the fact that I just finished the SEA Games, I would be satisfied to maintain my times."
TRIO WITH THE HEAVIEST LOAD
- QUAH TING WEN (11 events): 50, 100 and 200 fly; 50, 100 and 200 free; women's 4x100 and 4x200 free; women's 4x100 medley; mixed 4x100 free and medley.
- QUAH ZHENG WEN (9 events): 50 and 100 back, 200 fly, 100 free, men's 4x100 and 4x200 free, men's 4x100 medley, mixed 4x100 free and medley.
- JOSEPH SCHOOLING (8 events): 50, 100 and 200 fly; men's 4x100 and 4x200 free, men's 4x100 medley, mixed 4x100 free and medley.
- THE TEAM: Joseph Schooling, Quah Zheng Wen, Lionel Khoo, Danny Yeo, Pang Sheng Jun, Quah Ting Wen, Roanne Ho, Samantha Yeo, Amanda Lim, Rachel Tseng, Nur Marina Chan.
Relay poser for coach Lopez
At last month's SEA Games, national swim coach Sergio Lopez was optimistic that the men's relay teams had a shot at qualifying for the Olympics in Rio next year.
Yesterday, the American acknowledged that the 4x100m medley team could have the best shot of qualifying for Brazil.
Lopez pointed out that Clement Lim, a member of the SEA Games winning 4x100m freestyle relay team, retired after the Games, while the 4x200m freestyle relay will take place on Aug 7, when Joseph Schooling will also compete in the 100m butterfly.
Pang Sheng Jun, who was part of the SEA Games-winning 4x200m freestyle relay quartet, will swim in both the free relays in Kazan, Russia, where the world championships will be held from July 24 to Aug 9 (the swimming events will be held from Aug 2 to 9).
Said Lopez: "The 4x200m free relay could be a very good one, but it might not be a smart thing for Joseph to swim that before his 100 fly, although he has just three individual events.
"But I think we will have a very good chance in the medley relay, it depends on how we swim it."
The quartet of Quah Zheng Wen, Lionel Khoo, Schooling and Lim won the SEA Games medley relay in a Games record of 3min 38.25sec, which places them fourth in the world this year, taking into account that other top swimming quartets have yet to hit their peak.
With Lim retired, Danny Yeo - who was sick during the SEA Games but still clocked 50.56sec in the 4x100 free relay - will take the final freestyle leg in the medley relay in Kazan.
The top 12 teams in each of the three events - 4x100 free, 4x200 free and the 4x100 medley - will qualify for the Olympics, while the remaining four spots in each event will be determined by the world rankings next year.
While Quah, 18, is aiming to better his times in his four individual events, he vows to also give his best in the relays.
The teenager said: "My focus is on my individual events to gauge where I am, but I will definitely give my best for the relays as well.
"I know the relays are really important and I trust myself to step it up and race for the team no matter how (tired) I am feeling, since the team are also counting on me."
- LIM SAY HENG
"Joseph was in the semi-finals (200m butterfly) in Barcelona (2013 world championships) and missed out on the final by a bit, so he’s already there, and I think Zheng Wen can do very well."
- Sergio Lopez on Joseph Schooling (pictured above)