SINGAPORE - Three months after winning six gold medals at the SEA Games to be named most valuable male athlete of the event, swimmer Quah Zheng Wen has kicked off his 2020 season with a splash, winning his third consecutive 200-yard butterfly title on Sunday (March 8) at the Pac-12 Swimming and Diving Championships.
The 23-year-old Singaporean, a fourth-year senior at the University of California, Berkeley, clocked a meet record of 1min 39.15sec at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Centre in Washington to better his mark of 1:39.86 set last year.
Teammate Trenton Julian, who topped the heats ahead of Quah, was second in 1:40.78 while Brooks Fail from the University of Arizona was third (1:42.93).
The meet is Quah's final tune-up before the March 25-28 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men's Swimming Championships. He will also compete in his third Olympic Games in Tokyo, after qualifying for the 100m backstroke and 100m butterfly at the SEA Games in the Philippines last December.
Quah, who is on the hunt for his first individual gold in his final NCAA outing, said: "This meet has shown me that I'm in a good spot and gives me confidence moving forward to the NCAAs and the Olympics. The next two weeks will be spent refining the details and prepping for NCAAs.
"It was a good Pac-12s and I'm learning from it, the focus is on what's two weeks from now."
His 1:39.15 effort is the second-fastest time in college swimming for the 2019-2020 season, behind the University of Louisville's Nicolas Albiero (1:38.65).
It is also his fastest since 2017, when he clocked 1:38.83 en route to winning the 200-yard butterfly silver on his NCAA debut. He finished sixth in the same event at the 2018 NCAA championships and clinched bronze last year.
At this year's Pac-12 championships, he also clinched a silver and a bronze in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard fly respectively, and bagged two relay golds (200-yard and 800-yard free).
The Cal Bears are led by head coach David Durden, who will be the head coach for the United States men's swim team at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. They clinched their third straight Pac-12 team title with their final team score of 856, ahead of the University of Arizona (578) and Stanford University (573.5).
They are the defending NCAA champions, with last year's victory their first since 2014.