Swimming: No stone left unturned as swimmers bid to make the cut for Rio Olympics

Swimming coaches Sergio Lopez (left) and Gary Tan cheering for their charges at the final day of the National Swimming Championships  on March 22, 2015.
Swimming coaches Sergio Lopez (left) and Gary Tan cheering for their charges at the final day of the National Swimming Championships on March 22, 2015.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

It will be another three months before the slate of swimmers competing at August's Olympic Games is finalised, but the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) is not leaving anything to chance.

An extensive roadmap for training and competitions - both locally and overseas - has been put in place for the Republic's elite swimmers, even if some of their places at the Games are still up in the air.

This includes two more high-level meets in the US - next month's Arena Pro Swim Series in Mesa, Arizona and June's Indianapolis leg.

A training camp has also been pencilled in for July in Paraguay, before the team check into the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro.

Those who hold an Olympic 'B' qualifying mark are dependent on world swimming body Fina to allocate leftover slots. But if they fail to acquire them, they will return to Singapore after the training camp.

TAKING POSITIVE STRIDES

(Quah) Zheng Wen is ahead of what I thought he would be when I first got here, so I'm very happy. The rest need to swim faster to make sure they qualify and they've done a very good job training.

SERGIO LOPEZ, Singapore national swimming coach, on how his charges are progressing in qualifying for the Olympics.

"We're fine training for the Olympics," said national coach Sergio Lopez yesterday. "(Quah) Zheng Wen is ahead of what I thought he would be when I first got here, so I'm very happy. The rest need to swim faster to make sure they qualify and they've done a very good job training."

The Singapura Finance 47th Singapore National Age Group (Snag) Championships from March 16-20 (Senior) will be the last Olympic qualifier for local swimmers looking to make the Rio Games.

Other than Quah and Joseph Schooling - the only two to have earned automatic berths by meeting the Olympic 'A' mark - no fewer than eight swimmers will be attempting at least better 'B' times.

The women's quartet of Hoong En Qi, Amanda Lim, Quah Ting Wen and Nur Marina Chan will also be aiming to qualify in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Lopez emphasised that the high of the SEA Games last year is a thing of the past, and his charges need to look ahead at fresh goals without letting the expectations of others become unnecessary pressure.

Said the Spaniard: "As it is, they already have enough pressure. If every thing goes well with the way we're training, I expect some very big things."

Breaststroke specialist Roanne Ho, however, remains a doubt for the Snag. The SEA Games champion underwent surgery in January after her right lung collapsed 80 per cent, and while she has resumed light training, she will not enter the meet unless she feels up to it.

She said: "I'm quite disappointed (if I don't swim the Snag as) it means I won't be able to go to the Olympics... but I believe that every thing happens for a reason.

"Health is the most important. I just make sure that if I don't feel good, I listen to my body."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'No stone left unturned as swimmers bid to make the cut for Rio Olympics'. Print Edition | Subscribe