Swimming: Teong sets sights on Asian Games medal

TEONG TZEN WEI.
TEONG TZEN WEI.

He came to prominence only at the SEA Games in August - with a surprise gold in the 50m freestyle.

But despite being a relatively new face on the block, Teong Tzen Wei, 20, is not afraid to aim high.

For a start, he wants to break Joseph Schooling's national record by March, "maybe a 22.3sec" at the Singapore National Age-Group Swimming Championships.

Then the freestyle specialist wants to go under 22 seconds and win an Asian Games medal in Indonesia in August.

"I feel those are very realistic aims," Teong told The Straits Times after training at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Monday evening, the day he finished his full-time national service.

"If I work on the things I need to, then definitely I can go under those times I have set for myself.

"I have proven to myself at the SEA Games that if I train hard enough, I can do it."

His task will not be easy, though, in an event where a slight mistake could mean the difference between first and last.

  • TEONG TZEN WEI'S 50M FREE TARGET TIMELINE

  • MARCH: SINGAPORE NATIONAL AGE-GROUP CHAMPIONSHIPS 

    22.3

    JOSEPH SCHOOLING'S 

    NATIONAL RECORD: 22.47 

    TEONG'S PERSONAL BEST: 22.55

  • AUGUST: ASIAN GAMES 

    < 22

Schooling erased Ang Peng Siong's 33-year-old mark of 22.69sec at the 2015 SEA Games, clocking 22.47sec on home ground.

Teong came close in Kuala Lumpur with a 22.55sec effort that put him joint-15th in Asia this year alongside China's Ban Bao.

Japan's Katsumi Nakamura and Shinri Shioura lead the continenton 21.97sec. China's Ning Zetao was the only man to achieve a sub-22sec timing at the last Asiad in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea, winning gold in 21.95sec.

National Training Centre head coach Gary Tan shares Teong's belief that he can reach his goals.

He said that his charge, who left yesterday morning for the Fina short-course Swimming World Cup in Beijing with team-mates Roanne Ho, Darren Lim and Gan Ching Hwee, needs to work on improving his posture, as well as mobility in his shoulders to progress further.

Better posture would allow him to move more efficiently while more shoulder mobility would give him a bigger range of motion to execute a better stroke.

Teong himself lists good starts and good underwater kicks as his strengths, while his weakness is his inability to hold his stroke rate and technique.

Tan, the 35-year-old former national swimmer, also hopes to see "more maturity in the way he approaches races. That is why these World Cup legs are such good experiences".

According to Tan, Teong just wants to swim his hardest and fastest in races. In contrast, a more experienced swimmer will also strategise, like conserving energy at the start and going full out only after a certain distance.

After Beijing, Teong will race in the World Cup in Tokyo from Nov 14-15 before the final leg of the eight-city series at the OCBC Aquatic Centre next weekend.

Beyond the Asian Games, Teong may expand his repertoire to include the 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle as he works towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

He said: "I always ask myself, 'Why not? Why put yourself down?' You'd never know what is in the future, so might as well aim high."

• Tickets for the Fina Swimming World Cup Singapore are available at www.sportshubtix.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'Teong sets sights on Asian Games medal'. Print Edition | Subscribe