Singapore Swimming Association lauds world championships squad

Joseph Isaac Schooling of Singapore competes in the men's 200m Butterfly Heats during the Fina Swimming World Championships at Kazan arena in Kazan, Russian Federation, on Aug 4, 2015.
Joseph Isaac Schooling of Singapore competes in the men's 200m Butterfly Heats during the Fina Swimming World Championships at Kazan arena in Kazan, Russian Federation, on Aug 4, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

Although it was Joseph Schooling who had won a medal and Quah Zheng Wen was the only other Singapore swimmer to notch a personal best and national record, the rest of the Republic's aquatics team have been praised by the senior management of the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA).

As the curtains drew in Kazan after more than two weeks of competition, the association's president Lee Kok Choy gave the thumbs-up to the 11 swimmers, eight synchronised swimmers and three divers for their efforts.

Lee said: "The results from the World Championships are a good boost and inspiration for the younger athletes participating in the Junior World Championships.

"It speaks well of the future and provided a great opportunity for our aquatics athletes to compete at an international level."

Apart from Schooling and Quah, no other personal bests was notched or national records rewritten in Russia but the performance of the rest of the team satisfied the SSA.

The diving trio of Fong Kay Yian, 18, Myra Lee, 21, and Freida Lim, 17, made their World Championships debuts.

Lee and Freida scored a total of 244.32 points to finish last out of 16 in the women's 10m synchro platform preliminaries. Fong scored a total of 206.20 points to finish 44th out of 47 in the diving women's 3m springboard preliminaries.

Singapore's synchronised swimmers finished 19th out of 25 in the team technical preliminaries with a score of 71.5776, ahead of Australia (70.8602).

It is the first time Singapore scored above 70 points for the team event at the world championships. The octet was made up of Stephanie Chen, Rayna Buckle, Natalie Chen, Gwyneth Goh, Nadine Khor, Shona Lim, Miya Yong and Debbie Soh.

SSA secretary general Oon Jin Teik added: "Our synchronised swimmers exceeded expectations in the team technical event, recording their highest scores at the World Championships."

Although much attention was on Schooling's quest for glory in the butterfly events, backstroke specialist Quah also made an impact.

The 18-year-old, who was granted deferment from national service last month, timed 54.40sec in the 100m heats, which erased his previous national record of 54.51 set during June's SEA Games. He finished 21st out of 67 swimmers overall.

Lee lauded Quah's performance, saying: "Zheng Wen did very well and we are glad he got his deferment. He deserves to focus on swimming in Rio next year. I believe he has a good chance to do well in Rio and that he will continue to do better than now."

But the highlight of the championships was undoubtedly Schooling's bronze medal in the 100m butterfly, achieved in a new Asian record of 50.96.

Lee said: "Joseph demonstrated a really good approach towards the competition and showed his willingness to compete as he improves after every event.

"He is showing his gifts and capacity to do well on all fronts with the help of the coach to peak in important competitions."

Oon added: "Joseph's bronze medal coupled with the breaking of records by both him and Zhengwen show that our athletes are responding well to the training systems which we have put in place and the support structures which we have set up to help our athletes perform at a higher level."

And Lee is already looking ahead to a brighter future for the aquatic team. "Our main target is the 2020 Olympics (in Tokyo) and we are on the right track in our long-term plans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2015, with the headline 'Singapore swim body lauds world championships squad'. Print Edition | Subscribe