SINGAPORE - The Singapore diving team have never won a Fina Diving Grand Prix title in the five years that they have been competing in the series.
But on the final day of the three-day Singapore stop at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Sunday (Nov 25), the Republic clinched two gold medals, via twins Timothy and Mark Lee, and Jonathan Chan.
The 24-year-old Lees totalled 362.31 points from six dives, bettering Poland's Andrzej Rzeszutek and Kacper Lesiak (359.01) and Russia's Ilia Molchanov and Sergey Nazin (352.50) in the men's synchronised 3m springboard event, which featured a field of three pairs.
Rzeszutek was the 2009 European Junior Championships men's 1m springboard silver medallist while Lesiak won the same event in the same competition in 2013. Molchanov was part of a pair that won the men's synchronised 3m springboard event at the 2015 European Games.
Then, the 21-year-old Chan scored a personal best of 438.55 points to win the men's 10m platform event, with Mexico's German Sanchez (420.20) and Russia's Sergey Nazin (410) taking silver and bronze respectively.
Sanchez won the silver in this event at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
"I am very happy with my performance today because I only learnt one of my dives - the reverse three and a half somersaults - recently, and this was only the second competition that I have tried it," said first-year Singapore University of Technology and Design undergraduate Chan, whose previous PB was about 360 points.
"I think the key was just making sure that I didn't let the nerves get to me, and not to overthink things, because things tend to go wrong when I do that."
The Lee brothers were similarly happy with their performance, especially Mark, with his struggles in training recently.
National coach Li Peng had given both divers until the end of the year to cut their weight to 70kg, but Mark dropped 6kg to 69kg within six weeks, which affected his diving.
"The way I use the board is totally different; when I press the board, I feel that the board is not going down with me," said Mark.
"That's something that I really struggled with."
What was more encouraging was that they scored better yesterday, with the same six dives, than the 356.37 points they managed in their fifth-place finish at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, three months ago.
Timothy said: "Technique-wise we have really been working with the coach on spinning faster and finishing our dives higher, along with fine-tuning the little things like the way we look in the air and the positions of our toes and hands."
While national coach Li, who joined Singapore Swimming Association in April, was happy with the trio's performances in this meet, he said that the divers can be even better.
"I wasn't too happy with their progress in the two months in training so far, after the Asian Games; they didn't reach my expectations in training, but I am satisfied with their performances in this competition," said former Chinese national champion Li, who was part of the coaching team for the Chinese women's team from 2001-2005.
"From now to the world championships next July, I will expect Tim and Mark to show significant improvements."
But the medals have given the divers a shot of confidence towards the 2019 season.
Chan said: "I guess this (score) will be the new benchmark that I have to hit... This is quite a big difference, and I will push myself."
Mark added: "I think this is really just the start. The season has been very confusing for me so far and this is definitely the highlight.
"From here on out it's just about climbing higher and higher."