Swimming: 5 things to know about promising Singaporean swimmer Zachary Ian Tan

SINGAPORE - Last year at the Singapore National Age Group Championships, swimmer Zachary Ian Tan broke 10 meet records.

He surpassed that tally this year by setting 11 meet records in 11 events in the same competition.

Here are five things to know about the up-and-coming swimmer, who turns 12 in June.

1. Top in the United States

The Swimfast Aquatic Club swimmer's times for the 200m breaststroke and 400m individual medley are top in the United States' all-time ranking for boys aged 11 and 12.

His 11 meet record times also place him among the top two in each event, for 11-year-old boys in the US (from Sep 1, 2013 through Aug 31, 2014).

2. A cross between Chad le Clos and Michael Phelps

While he swims the freestyle, breaststroke, and butterfly, it is the powerful fly strokes that has Zachary hooked.

His favorite race is the 2012 Olympic 200m butterfly final, where South African star Chad le Clos stunned the world, toppling Michael Phelps by a mere 0.05sec.

The Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) pupil looks up to both swimmers, but wants to combine Phelps' drive in the pool with le Clos' affable personality out of it.

3. Sing or swim

While he loves being in the pool and clocking new personal bests, Zachary's other love is singing.

A true-blue 'Belieber', he counts Justin Bieber and Australian swimmer-turned-singer Cody Simpson among his idols - although his parents Noel and Jillian will say they disapprove of the former.

Currently, Bieber's 'As Long As You Love Me' and 'Beauty and a Beat' are top of his playlist.

Like his peers, Zachary also enjoys gaming, although that has ceased recently.

Parents Noel and Jillian have changed the password to his computer so that he can focus on the PSLE.

4. First love

While Zachary fell in love with swimming from the start, it was not the case with football, the first sport he tried.

His first plunge into football didn't go well.

Said his mother Jillian: "We let him try out football when he was five because he was a fast runner, but he didn't enjoy it at all.

"He started crying. We think it's because he doesn't like the heat and sweat."

5. Big brother Zachary

In an interview with The Straits Times, Zachary spoke with humility as he tried to manage the hype surrounding him, saying that he needs to qualify for the SEA Games first before dreaming about the Olympics.

Perhaps, his down-to-earth nature is due to the fact that he is the eldest of four children.

At home, his younger siblings go to him when they have problems, and the swimmer has to mediate.

Sister Mikayla Liz is five, brother Ayden is two, while baby sister Kyra Isabel is eight months old.