Swimming: Quah not looking back, eyes 200m fly final

Quah Zheng Wen at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on June 17, 2017.
Quah Zheng Wen at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on June 17, 2017. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

BUDAPEST • Quah Zheng Wen will be looking to the heats of the 200m butterfly to give his swimming World Championships campaign a lift today.

The 20-year-old Singaporean opened his meet yesterday but failed to make the semi-finals of the 100m backstroke, an event that was once his forte but one which he has since lacked competitive practice.

He clocked 54.68 seconds at the Danube Arena to finish 18th out of 46 competitors in the 100m back heats. Only the top 16 advanced and the final slot went to Russian Kliment Koleshnikov (54.51sec).

Unsurprisingly, the 200m fly has become his primary focus in Budapest.

"I've got my best chance in that," Quah said. "Going into Rio and all that has gotten me used to swimming at this level so it'll definitely be easier tomorrow getting out into the 200m fly."

Quah, who joined the University of California, Berkeley, in January, said he had become accustomed to the American format (the 25-yard short course instead of 50m long course) and in the butterfly events - he won a silver in the 200-yard fly at March's National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Swimming and Diving Championships.

As a result, his backstroke was rusty - even though he owns the national and SEA Games records in the 50m, 100m and 200m.

Quah admitted that he "didn't go out hard enough, didn't go out with enough speed" in yesterday's heats.

His personal best is 54.03sec set at the 2015 Fina World Cup series in Moscow and he added: "It could have been a lot better; I could have been in the semis pretty easily.

"Just going to put it behind me, see what I can do in the 200m fly tomorrow, try to make the top 16, hopefully make the final."

This is his second appearance at the biennial meet. At the 2015 edition in Kazan, Russia, he did not progress from the heats in any of his events: 50m back (20th overall), 100m back (21st), 100m freestyle (39th) and 200m fly (21st).

At last year's Rio Games, Quah reached the 100m and 200m fly semi-finals, and missed out on a final spot in the latter by just 0.08sec.

In Hungary, the two-time Olympian will race in the 50m, 100m and 200m back, as well as the 100m and 200m fly.

He remains confident of improving, noting: "I tend to swim better towards the end of the meets."

Jonathan Wong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2017, with the headline 'Quah not looking back, eyes 200m butterfly final'. Print Edition | Subscribe