School sports

Focus on backstroke puts Bradley on front foot

Bradley Tan of ACS (I) pushing hard yesterday during the backstroke leg of his A Division 200m individual medley final. He won the event in a meet record of 2min 10.27sec, bettering the previous mark of 2:10.49. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Bradley Tan of ACS (I) pushing hard yesterday during the backstroke leg of his A Division 200m individual medley final. He won the event in a meet record of 2min 10.27sec, bettering the previous mark of 2:10.49. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

He knew the long-standing record was within reach and could barely sleep the night before his A Division 200m individual medley final.

When 17-year-old Bradley Tan finished his Schools National swimming championships race yesterday at the OCBC Aquatic Centre and turned around to squint at the electronic scoreboard to find that he had set a new mark, he could hardly contain his joy.

"Breaking the record really felt great. Touching the wall and seeing that my timing was under the record time made me very happy," said the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student, whose 2min 10.27sec effort bettered Ren Guan Ji's meet record of 2:10.49 set in 2011.

The Year 5 student, who won the B Division race in 2:12.15 last year, said he was nervous before the final, but had a game plan towards achieving his target.

He said: "For the backstroke leg on the second lap, I really pushed very hard because I knew that was my weak point.

"Just focusing on that leg helped me to break the record.

"I knew that my mental strength was there this time as I had a clear target in my head so that gave me the confidence to beat the record."

Cherlyn Yeoh of Raffles Institution (RI) also set a meet record of 25.66sec in the A girls' 50m freestyle, 0.45sec faster than the 26.11 set by national swimmer Nur Marina Chan in 2014.

The 18-year-old Year 6 studentsaid: "One of the things I tried to change this year was to not breathe off the dive and to try to get a good break out."

She added: "I was a bit nervous but, hearing the supporters cheer for me, it really helped to calm my nerves."

Also setting a new meet record in the B boys' 50m breaststroke was RI's Leow Li Shen, whose 29.71sec effort erased the 29.78sec mark that he set in Monday's heats.

The 16-year-old Leow, who shared a laugh with his teammate in the next lane before the race, said: "Every millisecond in a race counts, so it was important for me to maximise my race.

"During my warm-up, my coach made some changes in my break-out technique and that helped me to bring my timing down.

"It definitely feels great to be able to match myself and be even better.

"To me, this just shows that I can be better than what I already am."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2019, with the headline 'Focus on backstroke puts Bradley on front foot'. Print Edition | Subscribe