National swimmer Quah Jing Wen is set for a move to the United States, enrolling in a college boasting one of the best women's swimming programmes in the country.
The Straits Times understands that the 16-year-old will join Texas A&M University from the upcoming fall semester. She is expected to leave for College Station, Texas, after competing at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur later this month.
The move would mirror her elder siblings Ting Wen and Zheng Wen. The latter, 20, who will return to Singapore today after competing in the World Championships in Budapest, is currently enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley.
Ting Wen, 24, graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.
The Singapore Swimming Association coaching staff yesterday declined a request to interview the swimmer, citing a desire to let her stay focused on the upcoming Games as the reason.
It is understood that the move to the US was spurred by Jing Wen's desire to pursue her studies there. She was, until recently, enrolled in the international baccalaureate programme at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).
But Texas A&M, which competes in Division 1 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Swimming and Diving Championships, is no minnow in the collegiate swimming scene.
THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
The first three months will be the toughest adjusting to (being away from) home-cooked food, friends, (the different) culture.''
DAVID LIM, Swimfast Aquatic Club founder, on what awaits Quah Jing Wen.
The Aggies boast one of the best women's swim teams in the US and are coached by two-time US Olympic team coach Steve Bultman. The team clinched their second straight South-eastern Conference title last season, posting the highest team finish in the school's history with a third place at the NCAA titles.
Jing Wen will find herself in good company, with several world-class swimmers on the Texas A&M roster.
Among them are American Bethany Galat, who won a silver in the 200m breaststroke at the World Championships last week. There is also Canadian Sydney Pickrem, who won a bronze in the 400m individual medley in Budapest.
While Ting Wen and Zheng Wen have long established themselves as top local swimmers - both hold multiple national records - Jing Wen has also quickly made her mark as one of the brightest young talents on the swim team.
She was the most bemedalled athlete at the recent Commonwealth Youth Games, bagging five golds and a silver at the meet in the Bahamas.
Jing Wen, who favours the butterfly stroke, also came within touching distance of Tao Li's national record in the 200m fly in June. She posted a time that was just 0.32sec off the 2008 record set at the Olympics in a now-banned supersuit.
While a move to the US is unlikely to be a foreign concept for the young swimmer, David Lim, who founded the Swimfast Aquatic Club that all three Quah siblings are a part of, said adjusting to the new environment would still be important.
"The first three months will be the toughest adjusting to everything - (being away from) home-cooked food, friends, (the different) culture," said Lim.
"The Quahs are quite self-disciplined, and I think Jing (Wen) is old enough and will understand."