SINGAPORE - Bukit Jalil's National Aquatic Centre once again formed the backdrop for the celebration of Team Singapore's milestones at the ongoing SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday night.
Freestyle specialist Amanda Lim, 24, made it a five-peat in the 50m freestyle sprint, taking gold in 25.41 seconds to make it five in a row at the SEA Games.
Swimmer Quah Jing Wen cemented her place as South-east Asia's new butterfly queen as she won the women's 100m butterfly - Singapore's 44th at this SEA Games - making it the country's best away haul at the biennial regional meet. Elder sister Ting Wen took the bronze in that event.
Jing Wen, 16, powered her way to the top of the podium after recording 59.38 seconds in the final, ahead of Thailand's Kornkarnjana Sapianchai (1:00.45) and 25-year-old Ting Wen (1:00.69).
Said the younger Quah: "Singapore has been doing well these past few years. Forty-four (golds) is insane but it's also just a number and it'll continue to grow. Singapore swimming will also go on to even greater heights."
It is Jing Wen's personal best. Her previous PB was 59.92sec set at last month's Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas. The youngest of the Quah siblings now has five medals at the Kuala Lumpur Games, having also won the 200m fly as well as being part of the winning relay teams for the 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m free and 4x100m medley races.
The Republic's previous best overall overseas showing was 43 titles at the 2007 edition in Korat, Thailand.
In the 50m freestyle, Lim, 24, pipped the elder Quah (25.46ec) to the top spot, then spoke about how the standard of swimming in South-east Asia has been on the rise, making it harder to retain her title each time.
She said: "This was the fastest SEA Games ever. It's really on a different level now.
"It's been a long year - I'm pretty glad that I came in and gave it my all. I'm glad that Ting was behind me, it's always great to do a 1-2."
The Republic's Olympic champion Joseph Schooling also made it a perfect six wins out of six events in the Malaysian capital as the butterfly specialist teamed up with Quah Zheng Wen (backstroke), Lionel Khoo (breaststroke) and Darren Lim (free) to win the 4x100m medley in a Games and national record of 3min 37.46sec, smashing the old mark of 3:38.25 set by Zheng Wen, Khoo, Schooling and Clement Lim in the 2015 Games.
Indonesia were second (3:40.34) while Vietnam took the bronze (3:43.09).
It was a thrilling swim for the Singapore team, from the moment Zheng Wen thumped his chest before entering the water to signal the quartet's high level of confidence. Zheng Wen gave the team the lead which was never relinquished as Khoo and Schooling extended the advantage to two body lengths. It was left to Lim to surge and touch home in a new record time to cue brotherly handshakes amongst the four.
In the men's 50m breaststroke final, Khoo added a bronze medal to Singapore's haul. The 22-year-old clocked 28.63sec, behind runner-up James Deiparine of the Philippines (28.60sec) and Indonesia's Indra Gunawan, who won gold with a new Games record of 28.25sec.