Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Sunday, December 15, 2013 – Singapore won one gold, two silver and two bronze medals on the penultimate day of the swimming competition at the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The quartet of Tao Li, Samantha Yeo, Quah Ting Wen and Amanda Lim extended Singapore’s winning streak in the women’s 4x100m medley relay to six, when they finished in a time of 4 minutes 13.02 seconds. They were two and a half seconds ahead of runners-up Thailand.
The result was never in doubt from the get-go, and Amanda finished off with a 56.20-second freestyle split that was the fastest in textile swimsuits since Joscelin Yeo’s 56.03s and 56.19s in 2001 and 2005 respectively. The same quartet had clocked 4:10.69 at August’s World Championships, and that was 0.31 seconds off the four-year-old national open mark.
All eyes were on Darren Lim in the men’s 50m freestyle ever since the then-14 year old clocked a sensational time of 22.73s at the national championships in June 2013 to come within 0.04s of Ang Peng Siong’s national open mark that had stood for 31 years. Russell Ong, who qualified then as well, was almost an afterthought in the discussion for gold medal predictions, even though the 24-year-old had bagged three consecutive SEA Games bronzes dating back to 2007.
Russell was 0.71 seconds away from first position then. In 2009, the margin was 0.36s, and two years later, it was down to 0.05s. This time, Russell led the field going into the final 10m, but Indonesia’ Fauzi Triady gained on Russell and touched the wall just ahead of him.
Triady won the gold in 23.12 seconds, while Russell finally improved on his three bronze medals with a silver, just 0.02s behind.
Darren was a non-factor in the race and finished fifth in 23.58s, despite clocking a 23.24s in the morning heats.
Ting Wen and Lynette Lim picked up silver and bronze in the women’s 200m freestyle, swimming times of 2:01.74 and 2:02.62 that were off their year’s bests of 2:01.13 and 2:01.21 respectively. Ting Wen’s 2:01.74 met the ‘B’ qualifying mark of 2:02.37 for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Samantha repeated her 2011 bronze-medal showing in the women’s 200m breaststroke when she finished in 2:34.27. Cheryl Lim, a silver medalist in this event four years ago, was sixth in 2:41.43.
Christopher Cheong was sixth in the men’s 200m breaststroke final, clocking a personal best time of 2:21.99 to become only the fourth local swimmer who has gone below 2:22. Lionel Khoo (2:17.69), Mark Tan (2:20.71) and Desmond Koh (2:21.87) are the other three.
In the men’s 1500m freestyle final, defending champion and national open record holder Teo Zhen Ren, who is coming off an injury which kept him out for an entire year, finished in a season’s best of 16:10.97 to place fifth.
Singapore lead the overall swimming medal tally by three gold medals going into the final day of competition, but much is still at stake.
Singapore’s female swimmers have had bragging rights over our regional rivals since 2003, but with 4 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze medals, they are currently lying in second place behind Thailand who have 4-6-2.
The women’s events to be raced on Monday, December 16, are the 400m individual medley, 50m freestyle and 200m butterfly. The 400m IM should see Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Anh Vien win the gold, barring a spectacular upset, while Thailand’s Benjaporn Sriphanomthorn is well placed to pick up a minor medal.
Singapore have an excellent chance to improve their gold medal count in the 50m freestyle, with two-time defending champion Amanda, as well as Ting Wen in their ranks. It could thus go down to the 200m butterfly.
Ting Wen is seeded first and Nguyen sixth, but they would have already swum an event earlier, so it could very well come down to those who had not raced and are thus fresh. If they make it through from the heats, Tao Li, the winner of the last four 200m fly titles at the SEA Games, and Thailand’s pair of Kittiya Patarawadee and Pankaew Sutasinee could be the ones to determine the fate of the women’s swimming title.
Results (Finals only)
Men’s 50m freestyle: Russell Ong 23.14s (Silver, season’s best); Darren Lim 23.58s (5th)
Men’s 200m breaststroke: Christopher Cheong 2:21.99 (6th, personal best)
Men’s 1500m freestyle: Teo Zhen Ren 16:10.97 (5th, SB)
Women’s 200m breaststroke: Samantha Yeo 2:34.27 (Bronze); Cheryl Lim 2:41.43 (6th)
Women’s 200m freestyle: Quah Ting Wen 2:01.74 (Silver); Lynette Lim 2:02.62 (Bronze)
Women’s 4x100m medley relay: 4:13.02 (Gold) [Tao Li 1:03.56, Samantha Yeo 1:12.42, Quah Ting Wen 1:00.84, Amanda Lim 56.20s]
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