SINGAPORE - By her own admission, Quah Ting Wen's times were "sub-par" at the Tokyo Olympics but she is looking to regain her spark this year after a disappointing 2021.
While she was also not satisfied with her performances at the International Swimming League (ISL), a professional competition, the 29-year-old hopes to start afresh ahead of a busy year that will see the SEA, Commonwealth and Asian Games take place, as well as the Fina World Championships.
She said: "It's nice having that idea that we are starting a new year, a new chapter and it's a chance to let things that were from 2021 stay there and approach 2022 with a bit more energy and excitement.
"I think having the Commonwealth Games - one of four big events this year - is an opportunity to kind of reset and hopefully make this year a better one for swimming and personally as well."
Quah was speaking at the Longines boutique at Wisma Atria on Wednesday (Jan 19), when the three-day tour of the Queen's Baton Relay in Singapore ended. Longines is the official timekeeper for the Commonwealth Games, which will take place in Birmingham from July 28 to Aug 8.
While the last year was not smooth sailing for Quah, it has also taught her some valuable lessons that she will be taking into the new year.
She had enjoyed a strong 2019, which saw her clinch six gold medals at the SEA Games, and had wanted to carry that winning momentum into 2020, when the Olympics were initially scheduled to take place.
But the pandemic wreaked havoc on the sporting calendar, forcing the quadrennial competition to be postponed by a year. The extra year of training, coupled with the uncertainty and changing schedules, eventually took a toll on her.
In her two events in Tokyo, she clocked times below her personal best and later lamented that she was not at her physical peak.
She also felt that she under performed during the ISL season with DC Trident later in the year.
Quah said: "I didn't expect myself to get tired of all the ups and downs when I did. I was like, 'We will persevere and push through it', but by 2021, it was starting to affect a lot of us.
"I had a pretty good year in the ISL in 2020. I think it was because of the inconsistency of having to quarantine and start training, that very staccato kind of training that I got tired in 2021. I didn't regulate myself - I wasn't placing enough emphasis on certain things. I wasn't resting enough and by the end of 2021, I realised I had dug a hole of fatigue so deep that I was having trouble pulling myself out."
A break at the end of last year did not do much for Quah, which worried her.
But after taking some time to reflect on her swimming career and the past year, she concluded that she still wanted to prioritise sport in 2022.
Quah has set herself some lofty goals as she hopes to compete in all the major Games, which will pose a challenge given that they are in May, July/August and September.
Having bagged a bronze with the 4x100m medley relay team in 2018, she also wants to win a medal again at the Asian Games.
While she has yet to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, she also wants to see how close she can get to a spot on the podium, no mean feat given the Games will feature world-class swimmers from Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.
Acknowledging that 2022 will not be easy, she said: "The goal is to get myself so fit that it gives me more options where maybe I wouldn't have to do a full taper and still be able to go fast. Ideally, I would really want to do well in all (the Games). It may be difficult and I may miss the mark at some point, but I know myself and I won't be happy if I don't try."