SINGAPORE - One would expect an athlete to be happy when she wins a national title, especially in a race as intense as the 50m freestyle in swimming.
This was not the case on Saturday (June 22), though, when Quah Ting Wen checked her time after winning the women's 50m free final at the Neo Garden 15th Singapore National Swimming Championships (SNSC).
"I was like, 'asterisk asterisk asterisk'," said the 26-year-old Swimfast Aquatic Club athlete of her 25.26sec effort, adding that she had been aiming to go under 25 seconds. Clubmate Amanda Lim (25.46) and AquaTech Swimming's Cherlyn Yeoh (25.81) were second and third respectively.
"I wanted to see 24 on the board, I think maybe I'm just more upset over it than usual because I really wanted to go under 25."
Still, there were positives Quah could take away from the meet, which concluded on Saturday. She set a national record of 54.62 in the 100m freestyle, lowering her previous mark of 54.82 that she clocked at the Singapore National Age Group (SNAG) Swimming Championships in March.
On what she hopes to improve ahead of next month's Fina World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, she said: "Fitness-wise, I already know what I have to do but it's the small stuff (like) the dives, the turns, the underwaters, the breakout part of the 50m free and setting the race up perfectly.
"I just want to work on the small things as much as I can every single session going into the world championships so that it becomes more like second nature once you race."
"I wish the 50m free went differently, but it's not bad - I still went best time for the 100m free (and set a) national record again. It's fun and I realised I'm so upset (about the 50m free) because I care that much," added Quah, who is entered in the 50 and 100 free, and 50 fly races in South Korea.
Men's 50m free winner Jonathan Tan of AquaTech was pleased with his 22.55sec effort, as it is just off his personal best of 22.52sec, which he clocked in March. Aquatic Performance Swim Club's Motohide Mori (22.72) and India's Virdhawal Khad (22.88) were second and third respectively.
The 17-year-old Jonathan said: "I wasn't tapered (for the SNSC) so that makes me happier. It's a good sign I'm on the right track towards my other competitions."
His personal best surpasses fellow Singaporean Teong Tzen Wei's 2017 SEA Games winning time of 22.55, but Jonathan's main priority in the coming months is not to become Southeast Asia's fastest man.
"That's everyone's dream but I wouldn't put that as my first goal because that puts a lot of stress on me, I just want to do a PB and that's my main goal," he added.
"But for me I don't like to focus on the timing that I'm going to get, I want to focus on what I need to do to get there first - my swims, my starts, my finishes - and how I can improve, instead of just thinking about the time."