Swimmers can go 'a lot faster'

Head coaches Widmer and Tan eye improvement despite six Olympic B cuts met

Teong Tzen Wei on his way to clocking 52.55sec in the 100m fly at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Friday to make the Olympic B time.
Teong Tzen Wei on his way to clocking 52.55sec in the 100m fly at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Friday to make the Olympic B time.PHOTO: SSA

Despite seeing six Olympic B qualifying times met at the Singapore National Olympic Qualifiers, national swimming head coach Stephan Widmer and national training centre head coach Gary Tan felt the results were "still far from what we were targeting".

The duo shared that the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) had hoped for more athletes at the Dec 3-6 event to join Olympic champion Joseph Schooling (100 metres butterfly) and Quah Zheng Wen (100m fly and backstroke) in making the A cut for next year's Tokyo Games.

A maximum of two swimmers may represent their country in an event if they have met the A cut. Otherwise, one athlete per event can potentially enter if they meet the B cut.

They also noted bright spots, mitigating factors, and crucial data that will hopefully help more swimmers make it to the delayed Games next year, via the national age-group meet in March and the national championships in June.

Tan said: "This was the second meet in almost 11 months for us and the results show we have a lot of cobwebs to dust off. There is a lot of room for improvement... good information to show where we are, what we are lacking right now to make some changes.

"Because of Covid-19, the swimmers had a very heavy load of training without competition... they had a three-day rest down and short taper. Hopefully, with a full taper, they will swim a lot faster.

"It will be a fine-tuning process in which we identify where our deficits are, assess the situation accordingly, and execute our plan by March."

Four athletes hit the B times at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last week:

•Jonathan Tan (50m freestyle, 22.42 seconds; 100m free, 49.72sec)

•Teong Tzen Wei (50m free, 22.54sec; 100m fly, 52.55sec)

•Quah Ting Wen (50m free, 25.37sec)

•Pang Sheng Jun (200m individual medley, 2min 2.03sec).

Widmer, who is also the SSA's performance director, added that the swimmers will now have more personalised and specific training in terms of their starts, turns and finishes.

He said: "We can now see very clearly from visuals and the bio-mechanical side of things where the swimmers are and where some work needs to be done.

"There are also some conditioning aspects, such as what happens at the front of the race and how strong they can finish, that we will still have to look at carefully."

Other than the individual events, the SSA is also eyeing a place in the women's 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays, although there are other challenges such as getting local and overseas-based swimmers in the same pool to try and qualify in this heavily restricted coronavirus era.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2020, with the headline 'Swimmers can go 'a lot faster''. Subscribe