SEA Games: University switch does no harm to diver Freida Lim’s preparations as she claims a silver

Freida Lim competes in the 3m/10m team event during the diving competition at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, on July 17, 2017.
Freida Lim competes in the 3m/10m team event during the diving competition at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, on July 17, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Diver Freida Lim found herself in limbo five months ago when Clemson University, an American college which she was attending on a full athletic scholarship, abruptly cancelled its women's diving programme.

Yesterday, though, she was right where she wanted to be - on the podium at the National Aquatic Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

The 19-year-old clinched a silver medal in the women's 10-metre platform with a score of 274.65, doubling her individual medal tally after she claimed one of the same colour in the team event a day earlier.

Malaysia's two-time Olympic medallist Pandelela Rinong took the gold (341.65).

Lim said: "I was really happy with my performance in team event because I didn't train much on the springboard.

"In the individual event, I actually expected to score higher because during my practice session I nailed those dives, so I was hoping to do better."

She also played down the effect changing schools had on her Games preparations.

After receiving notice of Clemson's intention to scrap the diving programme in March, the teenager managed to secure a place for her sophomore year at the University of Georgia, another diving powerhouse, less than a month later.

That meant her preparations for the Games were largely unaffected, as she arrived back in Singapore to train with the national team when her summer break started.

She added: "Coming into the Games, I definitely had expectations of us (doing well), because we managed to get four bronzes in 2015. We wanted to improve on the number since there are three more events.

"Personally, I knew that if we dived up to our standards, we could get silver in synchro and in the individuals, so I'm happy with the results so far."

This year is the first time mixed events have been introduced at the biennial Games, with the trio of synchronised 3m springboard, 10m platform as well as team events making their competition debuts.

The springboard event produced the Republic's second silver medal of the day, as Joshua Chong and Ashlee Tan posted a score of 243.84 to edge out Vietnam (234.45) for second. Hosts Malaysia secured gold with a 284.94-point score.

It was a memorable SEA Games debut for 16-year-old Joshua, who said the unexpected medal was a "bonus".

He said: "(The Games) are a very different experience compared to the other competitions I've been to. I really enjoy the atmosphere, it's very exciting having... such a large crowd."

Singapore's Mark Lee also took bronze in the men's 1m springboard event to equal the Republic's haul of three silvers and four bronzes at the 2015 SEA Games, concluding a fruitful day at the pool.

Diving continues today with the the 3m synchronised springboard event and 10m platform event to come.