Swimming: Jonathan Tan wins 200m freestyle but misses SEA Games qualifying mark

Jonathan Tan gets ready for his 200m freestyle final at the 16th Singapore National Swimming Championships Invitationals at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Jonathan Tan gets ready for his 200m freestyle final at the 16th Singapore National Swimming Championships Invitationals at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.PHOTO COURTESY OF SSA

SINGAPORE - Jonathan Tan narrowly edged out Glen Lim in the men's 200m freestyle to win his first race at the Ajinomoto/aminoVITAL 16th Singapore National Swimming Championships Invitationals (Major Games Qualifier) on Thursday (June 24), but it was not enough for a SEA Games spot.

Tan clocked 1min 50.17sec at the OCBC Aquatic Centre to finish just ahead of Lim (1:50.23) and Ardi Azman (1:52.07). His time is also below the Olympics "B" mark of 1:50.23.

Reigning SEA Games champion Darren Chua finished a surprise fourth and will not be defending his title in Vietnam this year after failing to meet the qualification time of 1:48.59.

Tan had been hoping to improve his personal best time of 1:48.70 set at the 2019 Singapore National Age Group (SNAG) Swimming Championships.

He said: "I was aiming to break my personal best... it didn't happen so I guess I'm a little bit down from that. But this is sport and I just have to get back on track and move on to the next event."

With Lim only meeting the SEA Games "B" qualifying time of 1:49.68 at the SNAG in March, Singapore may not have any swimmers in the event if the Games do proceed later this year.

Recent media reports said that the Nov 21-Dec 2 Games in Hanoi would be postponed to July next year due to the pandemic. The SEA Games Federation held a meeting involving the region's 11 national Olympic committees earlier this month to discuss its status, but no decision was made.

Tan has qualified for the 50m and 100m freestyle events in Vietnam and said training will continue despite the uncertainty surrounding the SEA Games.

The 19-year-old said: "To be honest, the uncertainty doesn't really affect me. All this while, my mindset is I only care about things I control. Whether the SEA Games happens is out of my reach and there's nothing I can do to make it happen or not happen. I'm just here to train hard and see how it goes."

In the women's 200m freestyle, Gan Ching Hwee finished first in 2:00.89, while SEA Games 50m butterfly women's and men's champions Quah Ting Wen and Teong Tzen Wei also won their respective events. Quah clocked 26.61sec, while Teong touched the wall in 23.95sec.

The pair, along with Gan, had secured their SEA Games spots in their respective events at the SNAG.

The second day of the invitationals was one of near-misses for Singapore's swimmers as Christie Chue and Nicholas Cheong both missed out on a SEA Games spot in the 50m breaststroke.

Chue, 21, touched the wall first in 32.21sec but did not go below the Games' qualifying mark of 31.43sec. Cheong, 19, finished first in the men's race in 29.07sec, but did not meet the qualifying time of 28.52sec.

The June 23-27 meet is the final qualifier for swimmers to book their spots at the Olympic Games, SEA Games, Asian Youth Games and Fina World Championships.