Ting Wen finds a new belief

She breaks 50m free record to add to 100m mark, attributes it to her changed mentality

Along with two national records, one of which she lowered twice, Quah Ting Wen concluded her outing at the Liberty Insurance 50th Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships with renewed confidence.

The 26-year-old powered to a national record of 25.07 seconds to win the 50m freestyle at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last night.

And, although she felt "kind of bummed" at not going below 25 seconds, she said: "I was quite happy when I saw 25.07, then my next thought was that it could have been 25.01 or 24.99, but that's just me. I always want to go faster, but I'll take it.

"For a period of time, I've been kind of stagnant - maybe improving in one event here and another event there, it was very sporadic so it's nice to have a solid meet and to have a few days of good racing.

"It makes me feel a bit more confident about my fitness level. I've just been enjoying this meet, it's been fun racing and watching some of the younger ones go really fast... I liked it a lot."

Representing Swimfast Aquatic Club, Quah finished ahead of clubmate Amanda Lim (25.39) and AquaTech Swimming's Cherlyn Yeoh (25.62).

Her previous record of 25.27 was set at the same meet in 2017.

Quah Ting Wen getting ready for the 50m freestyle final at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last night on the final day of the Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships. She won in 25.07 seconds.
Quah Ting Wen getting ready for the 50m freestyle final at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last night on the final day of the Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships. She won in 25.07 seconds. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

EXEMPLARY

The way Ting Wen approached the meet and the way she swam it, breaking record after record - it is very rare for a senior level athlete to do what she did...

GARY TAN, National Training Centre head coach, on Quah Ting Wen, who won all her five events.

Last Wednesday, she lowered the 100m freestyle record twice and became the first Singapore woman to go under 55 seconds in the event.

Then, she had told The Straits Times of how her mentality has changed this season, saying that she had reminded herself of the reason she is still swimming.

Adding yesterday that she is enjoying being a "student of the sport", she said: "It's (about) keeping it interesting for myself, having personal goals and barriers to break again.

"I really want the 24 (seconds in the 50m free), I want to be in Tokyo next year, I want to be faster. I'm still having fun racing and being kept on my toes."

Quah, who won all her events - 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle and 50m and 100m butterfly - at the March 19-24 meet, was not the only swimmer who lowered her own national record yesterday.

Gan Ching Hwee, who finished 0.67sec behind Quah in the 200m freestyle on Saturday, won the 1,500m freestyle in 16min 33.54sec.

The 15-year-old's old national mark of 16:39.70 was set at last year's Asian Games in Indonesia.

Her time yesterday was just off the Olympic A-cut of 16:32.04.

Ching Hwee, who was named the female MVP in the 15-17 age category, said: "Seeing that I missed it by that little bit, there was a tinge of disappointment, but I think overall I really felt satisfied with my race and performance, especially as it wasn't a full taper.

"I really felt so much pain by the last 700m, then I saw everyone cheering and waving and I was like, 'Come on, you can do it'. I missed (the Olympic A-cut) by a bit, but I'm on the right track."

Jonathan Tan of AquaTech Swimming, who won the men's 50m freestyle in 22.52sec, was named MVP among the boys aged 15 to 17.

In the 13-14 age category, Gabriel Koo of Aquatic Performance Swim Club and Ashley Lim of Singapore Swimming Club were the male and female MVP respectively.

National Training Centre head coach Gary Tan noted that the meet has yielded big drops in times since the Asian Games, where Singapore's swimmers surpassed expectations with two gold, one silver and three bronze medals.

"The junior ones who have been with the national team for two years really cemented their places in the team at this meet... there's a lot of people who developed these guys over time and it's very impressive," said Tan, referring to the likes of Ching Hwee, Jonathan, 17, Darren Chua, 19, and Cherlyn, 17.

"It's a good sign and the kids have worked really hard - all credit to them and the coaches."

He also reserved praise for Quah's performance, saying: "The way Ting Wen approached the meet and the way she swam it, breaking record after record - it is very rare for a senior level athlete to do what she did, and we cannot deny the fantastic job that (national youth head coach) Leonard (Tan) and the rest have done with her."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2019, with the headline 'Ting Wen finds a new belief'. Print Edition | Subscribe