Jonathan breaks Jo's 50m free record

In a photo from June 22, 2019, Jonathan Tan and Cherlyn Yeoh raise their trophies at the Neo Garden 15th Singapore National Swimming Championships at the OCBC Aquatic Centre in Singapore.
In a photo from June 22, 2019, Jonathan Tan and Cherlyn Yeoh raise their trophies at the Neo Garden 15th Singapore National Swimming Championships at the OCBC Aquatic Centre in Singapore.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Barely a month after helping to set two national relay records at the Fina World Championships, swimmer Jonathan Tan is now the owner of his first senior national mark.

And what a memorable one it is.

The 17-year-old clocked 22.46 seconds in the 50m freestyle heats at the Fina world junior championships in Budapest yesterday.

It shaded Joseph Schooling's previous time of 22.47sec set at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Jonathan finished third overall in the heats, behind American David Curtiss (22.16sec) and Ukraine's Vladyslav Bukhov (22.29sec).

Last night, he clocked 22.47sec in the semi-finals to be the third-fastest qualifier for tonight's final. Curtiss (21.95) and Bukhov (22.09) led the way again.

Joining them will be Jonathan's teammate Mikkel Lee, who clocked 22.80sec to sneak in as the eighth and final qualifier.

Jonathan said: "It's a dream come true for me and I've come a long way since the Junior World Championships two years ago (when he finished 26th overall in 23.42)."

Added Mikkel: "It's great that we've got two people in the final."

The 50m free record is a storied one in Singapore's swimming history.

Local great Ang Peng Siong's 22.69sec time at the 1982 US swimming championships stood for 33 years before Schooling bettered it at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

The past year has not been short of breakthroughs for Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student Jonathan.

In his debut at last month's world championships in Gwangju, he equalled the 2017 SEA Games winning time (22.55sec) in the 50m free final.

He was also part of the 4x100m mixed and 4x100m free relay teams that set national records of 3min 53.90sec and 3:16.66 respectively.

At last year's Asian Games, his first major competition, he teamed with Danny Yeo and Olympians Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen to win a bronze in the 4x200m free relay.

Jonathan's time yesterday bettered the 2020 Olympic B qualifying time of 22.67sec, though it is some way off the A qualifying time (22.01sec) that guarantees a spot.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2019, with the headline 'Jonathan breaks Jo's 50m free record'. Print Edition | Subscribe