Swimming: Lionel Khoo makes his mark

Lionel Khoo broke the 100m breaststroke national record during the 47th Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday, meeting the 'B' qualifying time for the Olympics in the process.
Lionel Khoo broke the 100m breaststroke national record during the 47th Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday, meeting the 'B' qualifying time for the Olympics in the process.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

National record and Rio Olympics 'B' time a welcome high point for S'pore swim team

The national swim team have had a testing time of late, with serious illness striking two members.

But Lionel Khoo put smiles back on the faces of the squad by breaking the men's 100m breaststroke national record at the 47th Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships (Snag) last night.

His time of 1min 2.26sec bettered Parker Lam's 2009 time of 1:02.65 but more importantly, met the 'B' qualifying time for the Olympics.

"It has been a hard month and a half for our team," said national coach Sergio Lopez, referring to Danny Yeo contracting dengue fever and Roanne Ho suffering from a collapsed lung.

"We have not been able to show how far our swimmers have come, but if we keep training the way we are training, we will have a good showing at the Olympics."

Despite his achievement - it is the first Open record to fall at this meet - Khoo feels he could have swum faster: "I was aiming to break the 1:02 barrier. However, I am still happy with my results today. This shows that I am on the right track and hopefully I can swim faster the next time I race in this event."

"At least I have secured the chance to get the call-up," he added, regarding the fact he could potentially represent the Republic in the Olympics in August.

"I am going to continue training, and Sergio and I will work together to come up with a strategy to make me go faster."

While those who meet the 'A' time are guaranteed a spot in the Olympics, athletes who meet the 'B' time will be invited by Fina to participate in the Olympics according to their place in the Fina world rankings released on July 3.

While Lopez is happy that Khoo lowered the national mark, he believes that there is potential for Khoo to set an even faster time.

"I am very happy for him. However, his form in training led us to believe he could have swum a 1:01, so I am not surprised that he managed to break the national record."

Quah Ting Wen also had a strong outing yesterday, meeting the 'B' qualifying time for the 200m butterfly. Her time of 2:13.72, set during the heats, was fractionally inside the 'B' time of 2:13.86.

"I have always thought that I could go under 2:10 for the 200m butterfly. It was something that we have been working on since the end of last year," she said.

Even though Quah was happy to make the 'B' cut in the event, she admitted to being slightly disappointed with her time. "I think I have it in me to go faster. It's just something in the second 100m which is slowing me down."

Quah dropped out of the 200m fly final to focus on the 200m freestyle final, which she won in 1:59.75.

Malaysian Welson Sim had another good night at the Snag meeting, his second 'A' cut for the Olympics in as many days with his time of 1:47.67 in the 200m freestyle.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2016, with the headline 'Khoo makes his mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe