Swimming: Injury-free Quah Ting Wen smashes 50m freestyle national record

Gan Ching Hwee competing in the women's 400m IM final at the national age group championships. She clocked 4min 54.54sec on Thursday to finish third and meet the SEA Games 'A' qualifying mark.
Gan Ching Hwee competing in the women's 400m IM final at the national age group championships. She clocked 4min 54.54sec on Thursday to finish third and meet the SEA Games 'A' qualifying mark.PHOTOS COURTESY OF SINGAPORE SWIMMING ASSOCIATION
Quah Ting Wen exploding off the blocks on the way to winning the women's 50m freestyle final in a national record of 25.27sec, bettering Amanda Lim's eight-year-old mark.
Quah Ting Wen exploding off the blocks on the way to winning the women's 50m freestyle final in a national record of 25.27sec, bettering Amanda Lim's eight-year-old mark.PHOTOS COURTESY OF SINGAPORE SWIMMING ASSOCIATION

Ching Hwee, 13, also impresses at SNAG after meeting three SEA Games qualifying times

The final day of the China Life Singapore National Age Group Championships (SNAG) provided a glimpse into the present and future of Singapore swimming.

Quah Ting Wen, winner of 13 golds from four previous SEA Games, showed she is still a force despite undergoing surgery last November to remove an implant by breaking the national 50m freestyle record yesterday.

The 24-year-old clocked 25.27 seconds yesterday at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, lowering Amanda Lim's mark of 25.38sec set in 2009.

Lim, who has won the event at the past four SEA Games, was second in last night's race after a 25.50sec swim while Thailand's Jenjira Srisa-Ard was third in 25.72sec.

Quah said: "The 50m has been an on-and-off event for me. It has to be perfect, or else it's not good. And it's hard to make 50m perfect all the time."

If the two-time Olympian, who has met the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games qualifying time in four events (50m free, 50m butterfly, 100m fly and 100m backstroke), represents one of the Republic's leading hopes in Malaysia, 13-year-old Gan Ching Hwee is surely part of the country's future.

  • SWIMMERS WHO HAVE MET THE SEA GAMES 'A' MARK

  • MEN

    Darren Lim (50m & 100m free)

    Danny Yeo

    (50m, 100m & 200m free)

    Lionel Khoo

    (100m & 200m breaststroke)

    Pang Sheng Jun (400m free, 400m individual medley)

    Teong Tzen Wei (50m free)

    Francis Fong (100m backstroke)

    WOMEN

    Roanne Ho (50m breast)

    Gan Ching Hwee

    (400m & 800m free, 400m IM)

    Amanda Lim (50m free)

    Quah Ting Wen (50m free, 50m & 100m butterfly, 100m back)

    Quah Jing Wen (100m fly)

    Christie May Chue (100m breast)

The Methodist Girls' School Year Two student may have finished only fifth yesterday in the 200m individual medley but has been outstanding otherwise throughout the meet, meeting the SEA Games 'A' qualifying times in the 400m free, 800m free and 400m IM.

The bespectacled teenager, who trains nine times a week at Chinese Swimming Club (CSC), said: "I didn't think about qualifying. I just wanted to hit my personal bests. SEA Games was like a long-term goal for me. So it hasn't really sunk in fully yet."

Like Quah, Ching Hwee needs to get the nod from the Singapore National Olympic Council to compete at the Aug 19-31 Games.

Her CSC coach Eugene Chia said: "What sets her apart from the rest of the swimmers is her ability to make the small changes that need to be made in her swim when you point them out to her."

National Training Centre head coach Gary Tan was equally enthused about Quah after watching her win the 50m free race.

He said: "That gave me encouragement and belief that she has so much more in the tank."

So quick was Quah, who resumed training only in January, that her effort would have met the 'A' qualifying mark of 25.28sec for last year's Olympics.

Leading up to the Rio Games, she clocked a best effort of 25.54sec. She went to Brazil via a universality place.

She said: "At this age, it gets harder and harder to do best times and break the national record.

"Every swimmer comes to the stage when you accept that you're not going to improve in every single meet.

"It gets frustrating, but there are always small things to work on and improve. I won't say that I'm past my peak, but I'm just trying to push myself to see how far I can go."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2017, with the headline 'Injury-free Quah smashes free record'. Print Edition | Subscribe