Fina Swimming World Cup in Singapore: Critical for more Singaporeans to qualify for Olympics

National swimmers Quah Zheng Wen (second from right) and Danny Yeo (right) showering after training at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
National swimmers Quah Zheng Wen (second from right) and Danny Yeo (right) showering after training at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Lopez wants more S'poreans to qualify for Olympics and Quah to make it in more events

The first eight months of this year were among the most challenging for the Singapore swim team.

It started in March, with the Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships. Three months later, they enthralled the nation with a record 23-gold haul at the SEA Games on home soil.

That was swiftly followed by the Neo Garden Singapore National Swimming Championships, while some also took part in the Fina World Championships and the Fina World Junior Championships.

But, all that is now in the past, and the team, following a short break last month, have pressed the "reset' button and are ready to get back in the swing of racing for the new season - starting with this weekend's Fina Swimming World Cup.

And few seasons will be as critical as the one ahead, which includes the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil in 10 months' time.

INSPIRING THE YOUNG

For the younger ones, seeing the world champions walk on the pool deck and race should be a very motivating thing.

SERGIO LOPEZ, national swimming coach, on this weekend's World Cup in Singapore

Singapore coach Sergio Lopez was clear about his targets for the two-day meet, which will feature some of the world's top swimmers.

He said: "I can't have any objectives besides racing as hard as we can. We need to stop thinking we can go fast every three months.

"Last season was long. We had a lot of big meets, the international season last month, and now we're slowly picking up."

That said, he hopes to see more of his charges meet the Olympic 'A' mark, which guarantees them a spot at the Games next year.

At present, only Joseph Schooling (100m freestyle, 100m and 200m butterfly) and Quah Zheng Wen (100m backstroke, 200m fly) have made the benchmark.

Said Lopez, an Olympic bronze medallist for Spain in 1988: "I hope to see more 'A' cuts. I believe we can. Zheng Wen can make the 'A' cut in the 100m fly and 200m back as well.

"I have different targets for different people, and in the next couple of weeks I will sit down with them to discuss."

While the haze has disrupted their training and led to less time in the pool, Lopez hopes his charges will capitalise on the star-studded line-up and learn from the top swimmers set to compete here.

Among those pencilled in for the event at the OCBC Aquatic Centre are four-time Olympic gold medallist Missy Franklin, world champion Emily Seebohm, world record-holder Katinka Hosszu and Olympic 50m free champion Florent Manaudou.

Said Lopez: "For the younger ones, seeing the world champions walk on the pool deck and race should be a very motivating thing.

"You see them warming up, how they are just normal people... I think it's going to be a great meet for kids and parents."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2015, with the headline 'CRITICAL SEASON FOR LOCAL SWIMMING'. Print Edition | Subscribe