DOWN with tonsillitis last week and the flu this week, national swimmer Roanne Ho was not in the best shape entering the Neo Garden 11th Singapore National Swimming Championships, which began yesterday.
But her steely resolve saw her through, as she powered home first in 31.90 seconds to win the 50m breaststroke at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, finishing metres ahead of Kathlyn Laiu (33.67) and Nicholle Toh (33.76).
Ho's victory saw her break the meet record for the second time in the day, after she had lowered her 32.99sec mark set last year with a 32.04 effort in the morning's heats.
The 22-year-old said: "I could have done better. Timing-wise, it was fine. I'm still a little sick now. But (national) coach Sergio (Lopez) said to not think about it and focus on what I can do in the water."
Her performance yesterday came two weeks after the SEA Games in Singapore, where she stunningly clinched the gold in the same event with a 31.45sec effort, which is a national and Games record.
That saw her bettering the 'A' qualifying time of 31.50 for the July 24-Aug 9 Fina World Championships in Russia, giving her further impetus to continue after she had previously contemplated retiring after the Games.
A second meet record on the night also fell to another SEA Games champion with Quah Zheng Wen, the biennial multi-sport event's most bemedalled athlete with 12, taking the men's 100m backstroke gold.
He also broke the meet record twice yesterday with a 54.65sec showing in the final, toppling his morning's effort of 54.93.
He had held the previous record of 56.17 set last year.
"I think every time I step onto the blocks, I should race as hard as I can. No matter what tier the meets are and who I'm racing with, it all builds up experience and prepares me for the Olympics and other major meets," said Quah, who also won the 100m butterfly last night in 54.04sec.
However, the 18-year-old, who is competing in only three events at the national meet, admitted that he was slightly weary.
"Building up to major tournaments, we usually have this taper period where we train less and rest more," he said.
"But with two meets back to back, it is tough because I'm not used to racing so many times in a short space of time."
He has also qualified for the World Championships but his participation is up in the air, as he is due for national service enlistment next month.
He has applied for deferment but that has yet to be resolved.