Breaststroke specialist Lionel Khoo rewrote his 200m national mark on Thursday (yesterday morning, Singapore time), when he clocked 2min 15.24sec in the B final at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Atlanta, Georgia. He finished third in the race, behind Chinese swimmer Liu Yunsong (2:13.33) and Argentinian Gabriel Osvaldo (2:15.19).
Khoo, 22, had clocked 2:17.95 in the heats earlier in the day.
The A final was won by Andrew Wilson (2:08.95), who touched the wall ahead of Will Licon (2:09.47) and Josh Prenot (2:10.43). All three swimmers are Americans.
"Switching from short course, which I have been training and racing for the past two months, to long course is not easy," said Khoo.
"I came here to qualify for the Asian Games 'B' time (of 2:14.97), but I missed it. I'm disappointed, but I know it's a learning process."
Khoo had set the previous national mark of 2:15.27 last March at the China Life Insurance Singapore National Age-Group Championships. He holds the long and short course records for the 100m and 200m breast, and the short course mark for 50m.
In January, he left to study and train at the University of South Carolina in the United States, joining national team-mates such as Joseph Schooling (University of Texas at Austin), Quah Zheng Wen (UC Berkeley) and Quah Jing Wen (Texas A&M).
Singapore Swimming Association technical director Sonya Porter said Khoo's breakthrough shows that he is settling down well in the US. It is also testament to the work he put in with the SSA's coaches in the national training centre set-up before moving abroad.
"Most definitely, it means he is assimilating to his new environment, team and coaches with a positive impact," said Porter.
"It also reflects that he was well prepared from his time at the NTC under Gary (Tan) and his staff, to be able to hit the ground running and step up to the new challenges.
"Credit to the coaching staff in South Carolina in helping Lionel to adjust so quickly, and Lionel being hungry to continue to push himself towards his goals."
Khoo, who won a bronze medal in the 50m breast at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur last August, is pencilled in for today's 100m breast at the meet in Georgia, which is the second of a six-leg series.
At the University of South Carolina, he is coached by McGee Moody, who is into his 10th season in charge of the team.
The Gamecocks finished 19th in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Swimming Championships last season. Porter believes Khoo has the right attitude to make big strides in his US stint.
She said: "Lionel is a talented young man with a tremendous work ethic, and (he will) take advantage of every opportunity to push his limits beyond what he believed was possible."