Singapore Sports School, Wednesday, June 27, 2013 – The third day of the 9th Singapore National Swimming Championships saw four national open and age-group records broken, as well as six swimmers meeting the qualifying marks for December’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar.
23-year-old Danny Yeo sprinted to a national open record in the first final of the evening, when he beat a talented men’s 100 metres freestyle field to finish first. His time of 50.51 seconds improved his own mark by nine hundredths of a second, and also easily surpassed the Games qualifying mark of 51.36s, pegged to the bronze-medal winning time of the previous Games in Palembang.
It was also good enough to meet the ‘B’ qualifying mark of 50.64s for August’s World Championships.
While Danny qualified for his third consecutive SEA Games, it would be the first such outing for young Darren Lim, who has taken down a slew of national age-group records over the past 15 months. The 14-year-old Secondary Three student clocked a blistering 51.25s to take the second of two SEA Games spots for this event.
Darren’s pre-meet personal best and national under-17 record stood at 52.03s. His heat time of 51.88s was a new mark which lasted for less than 12 hours before he rewrote that in the final. Darren also met this year’s World Junior Championships qualifying mark of 51.49s.
Clement Lim, who set a national record in this event at the last Games during the 4x100m relay final, finished third in a time of 51.57s, while Russell Ong, a mainstay in the previous three 4x100m freestyle relay squads that have taken the gold medal at the SEA Games, was fourth in 51.71s. Quah Zheng Wen (52.10s) also put himself up for consideration to swim this relay in Myanmar, along with United States-based Joseph Schooling, who clocked 51.47s in his nominated qualifying meet at the ARENA Grand Prix in Charlotte last month.
Samantha Yeo, 16, qualified for the women’s 100m breaststroke in style as she smashed a long-standing age-group record en route to becoming the second-fastest local swimmer ever in this event.
Samantha covered the first 50m in 33.21 seconds – the third quickest time she has ever swum – and touched home in 1 minute 10.49 seconds, 1.2 seconds faster than the 1:11.69 qualifying mark.
Joscelin Yeo’s national under-17 record of 1:11.37 was already under threat when Samantha swam a 1:11.57 in the heats, and the 17-and-a-half-year-old mark finally fell in the final. Joscelin had registered that time in the 1995 SEA Games final when she won the gold medal, one of her 40 in the biennial Games.
Samantha also qualified for the 200m individual medley yesterday.
Samantha’s time met the ‘B’ qualifying mark for the World Championships, and also qualified her for the World Junior Championships in late August. In addition, registering a time in the 1:10+ territory placed her as a genuine contender for the SEA Games gold medal, and she could potentially usurp the dominance of the Malaysian duo of Siow Yi Ting and Christina Loh, who finished 1-2 at the last Games in 1:10.55 and 1:10.57. Siow clocked 1:10.73 at May’s Malaysia Open while the latter finished second in 1:12.06.
Lynette Lim qualified for her third 400m freestyle event in four SEA Games when she finished first in a time of 4:19.31. It was about two seconds off her fastest time of the year, a 4:17.19 which she clocked at the Santa Clara Grand Prix in May, but nevertheless well within the Games qualifying mark of 4:23.00.
Rachel Tseng, 15, improved her personal best by over two seconds to finish second in a time of 4:22.56, and that ensured her a place in her first SEA Games squad.
Quah Zheng Wen, who qualified for the 400m IM on Wednesday, will swim both individual medley events after meeting the 200m mark today. He won the final in a time of 2:05.96 to go quicker than the mark by a full second. Zheng Wen will join Joseph Schooling to represent Singapore in this event. The latter qualified by virtue of his national record of 2:00.77 clocked in Charlotte.
A national under-14 record was broken in the final event of the night, the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. The Swimfast Aquatic Team quartet of Tan Jing-E, Hoong En Qi, Hannah Quek and Quah Jing Wen finished first in a time of 4:06.60 to break the existing record of 4:07.92.
The same four swimmers also took down the national under-14 record in the 4x200m freestyle relay on Wednesday.
The men’s 100m breaststroke was also contested. Christopher Ee had finished a close second behind Lionel Khoo at April’s National Schools meet, and this time he turned the tables on the national under-17 record holder by touching home 0.42 seconds ahead of Lionel in 1:05.04. Both swimmers were well short of the SEA Games qualifying mark of 1:02.84, and it appears likely that the Singapore’s medal drought in this event at the Games will extend beyond the current 14 years.
Today’s events will feature the men’s 400m freestyle, the women’s 800m freestyle, the men’s and women’s 100m backstroke and butterfly, as well as the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay.
SEA Games qualifiers so far
Men’s 100m freestyle: Danny Yeo; Darren Lim
Men’s 200m freestyle: Joseph Schooling
Men’s 100m butterfly: Joseph Schooling
Men’s 200m butterfly: Joseph Schooling
Men’s 200m IM: Joseph Schooling; Quah Zheng Wen
Men’s 400m IM: Quah Zheng Wen; Pang Sheng Jun
Women’s 100m freestyle: Quah Ting Wen; Amanda Lim
Women’s 400m freestyle: Lynette Lim; Rachel Tseng
Women’s 100m breaststroke: Samantha Yeo
Women’s 200m IM: Samantha Yeo