Racked by fatigue after competing in five races over three days at the Neo Garden 12th Singapore National Swimming Championships, Quah Jing Wen was on the verge of giving up during her 200m butterfly final yesterday.
The 16-year-old Swimfast Aquatic Club swimmer said: "For the last 50m, I told myself that this was the last race and that I've got to do my best. If I pushed myself to the limit and didn't win, it's okay because I did what I could."
So she defied her aching muscles and silenced her tired body, her final effort pushing her to a 2min 17.66sec timing and her sixth gold medal of the meet. She edged out runner-up Nicholle Toh (2:17.83).
Jing Wen, who also won the 100m freestyle (57.32sec) yesterday, earned herself the best female swimmer award. Chinese Swimming Club's (CSC) Benedict Boon was named the best male swimmer. A total of 28 clubs and 343 swimmers took part in the three-day meet.
"When I touched in first place, I was really happy but still extremely tired," said Jing Wen. "Coming to the end of the meet, I got really tired. My coach (Gary Tan) could see that but he pushed me, encouraged me and really believed in me. From then, I decided to go all out in the rest of my events."
Another top performer was Faith Khoo. She set two national Under-14 records in the 100m (1:05.26) and 200m backstroke (2:20.85) events.
A third record eluded the 13-year-old, however, when she finished behind Anna Pang (30.34sec) in the 50m backstroke final, posting a time of 30.63sec.
The Raffles Girls' School student, who collected a gold and two silvers, said: "I think I performed okay and could've done better (yesterday). One reason is because I didn't eat enough and I was also quite nervous. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't break the record."
National assistant coach Gary Tan named both Faith and Jing Wen as his top performers in the meet.
He said: "Faith did a very good job. She's only 13 years old. Doing the times that she did, it bodes well for the future.
"Jing Wen had an exceptional meet. She really capitalised on all of her events, especially in the butterfly - her 100m timing (1:00.28) is pretty close to her sister's (national swimmer Ting Wen, 59.35). She's been very consistent in practice and you got to give her credit for it."