Compared to the same meet last year, swimmer Glen Lim cut a more composed figure at the Liberty Insurance 50th Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships this year, his coach Marcus Cheah said.
That was why the teenager set a national record of 3min 52.64sec in the 400m freestyle - his second in as many events - at the meet yesterday at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
The 17-year-old, representing AquaTech Swimming, finished second in the final behind Indonesian Aflah Fadlan Prawira (3:52.16), and topped the men's 15-17 age category. Glen also set a national record in the 800m freestyle on Tuesday.
The Raffles Institution student led throughout the race yesterday before he was overtaken at the 300m mark.
He then reclaimed the lead with 50m to go, but Aflah eventually touched home first.
Though he was disappointed, Glen said: "I can't complain because I gave it my all.
"It was a good swim because I did everything according to plan, I was just pushing through (and) trying to hit my goal (of going below 3:53)."
Seconds Singapore swimmer Glen Lim finished behind Indonesia's Aflah Fadlan Prawira in the 400m freestyle.
His previous record of 3:54.12 was set last June, and his time yesterday meets the event's A-cut for the SEA Games in November and the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships in August. He has also met the B-cut for the world championships in July and next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Cheah, who has coached him for the past 1½ years, said the way Glen has learnt to deal with his nerves has shown how he has grown as a swimmer.
Recalling how Glen was "freaking out and getting nervous" at last year's event, the National Training Centre assistant coach said: "Last year, Glen thought too much about the outcome... the moment you start thinking about the end goal, you forget about the processes that get you to the end goal.
"We kept focusing on those processes (over the past year)."
They also spent the past 1½ months working with a bungee cord to help them better identify Glen's weaknesses and improve his stroke technique, which Cheah feels is a key reason for the teenager's improvement.
Cheah added: "Glen copes with pressure best when he is extremely confident with himself and with his strokes, (and) he has used this confidence of knowing exactly where his body is to cope with that pressure."
On how he learnt to cope with pre-race pressure, Glen said: "I just let it be, and let it slide. There obviously will be pressure, but I just had to embrace it, I couldn't do anything else."
Cheah believes Glen's mental strength can be harnessed to take the swimmer to the next level, as his versatility as a freestyle swimmer has opened a lot of options in the events he will focus on.
He explained that Glen is primarily a 1,500m free swimmer who is especially talented at coming back strong in the second half of the race, which makes him a good 400m swimmer as well.
The former national swimmer added: "He has a very good 200 free as well... we'll be very excited to see how he approaches that (tomorrow) with what he has achieved in the 800m and 400m."