By Erwin Wong
Rome, Thursday, July 30, 2009 - Nearly 20 months ago at the 2007 South East Asian Games, Quah Ting Wen, Amanda Lim, Lynette Lim and Mylene Ong trooped out to the pool for the women's 4x200m Freestyle relay final, the last event of the first night of swimming competition.
They clinched the silver behind hosts Thailand, but came home with a national record of 8min 26.23sec, which stood for over a year and a half.
Until today, the 5th of 8 days of swimming action at the World Championships.
The exact same quartet, 2 years older but with considerably greater speed and experience, again flew the national flag in this relay, and based on composite times, were expected to smash the existing mark. And they did not disappoint.
Swimming in the 2nd heat alongside the seeded teams from France, Japan, China and Netherlands who all managed sub 8 minute swims, the Singapore quartet came in 5th, obliterating the old mark with a new one of 8:09.91.
The lineup was interesting enough. Ting Wen, Amanda, Lynette and Mylene were ranked 1st to 4th respectively in the individual 200m Freestyle this year, and that was exactly how the order went. National record holder Ting Wen swam first and touched home in a time of 2:00.50, over a second off her personal best and slightly slower than her individual swim earlier in the meet. Amanda was next and split a 2:03.80, the record well on its way to be re-written.
Lynette then carried on her excellent form when she stormed home with a 2:01.88 leg. She had earlier set a national record in the 1500m Freestyle and also swam a massive personal best in the 200m Butterfly, and her 200m Freestyle split from this relay was comparable to her individual personal best of 2:02.16.
The die already cast and the new record already set in stone, Mylene then brought the team home with an impressive 2:03.73 split, completing the record-breaking process with aplomb. The old mark remains in the books as the Under-17 record, as Mylene and Lynette are over aged.
Ting Wen and Amanda's performances in the relay were admirable, as they had earlier raced in the 100m Freestyle heats. They clocked times of 56.29s and 56.95s, failing to break their personal bests of 55.57s and 56.16s. 2007 SEA Games winner Natthanan Junkrajang split the 2 Singaporeans, the Thai managing a 56.42s swim.
15 year old Cheryl Lim had set a personal best of 2:38.18s in the women's 200m Breaststroke during the June national championships, but only managed a 2:44.33s swim here. Roanne Ho, though, improved on her season's best of 2:48.59 with her 2:43.72 performance.
Rainer Ng, Mark Tan and Ng Jia Hao all came within a second of their personal bests. Raffles Institution student Rainer completed his 200m Backstroke heat in a time of 2:08.57, 0.25s off his best set in June. Fellow schoolmate Jia Hao clocked a 2:25.77 in the 200m Breaststroke, while national record holder Mark touched home in 2:21.42, off his best of 2:20.71 set at the National Age-Group championships in March.
In tomorrow's action, the Men's 4x200m Freestyle relay team will look to emulate their female compatriots as they attempt to break the national record which has stood since November 2005. Jeffrey Su will compete in his only individual event in the men's 50m Freestyle, and will be joined by Clement Lim who will be looking to wipe out Jeffrey's Under-17 record of 24.09s. Nicholas Tan and Nicholas Sim will compete in the men's 100m Butterfly, while the female contingent will be represented by Mylene and Tao Li (50m Butterfly), Shana Lim (200m Backstroke) and Koh Hui Yu and Lynette Lim (800m Freestyle).