Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Monday, December 16, 2013 – Team Singapore won eight medals, two of them gold, on the final night of the swimming competition at the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Amanda Lim won her third women’s 50 metres freestyle gold medal on the trot by finishing first in a Games record time of 25.69 seconds. It was her fastest time of the year, and her third best ever. Amanda’s two fastest times of 25.38s – the national open and under-17 record – and 25.68s were clocked at the 2009 Asian Youth Games.
It is also just 0.01s off the best time done in a textile swimsuit, which was by Mylene Ong in April 2012.
Quah Ting Wen was fifth in 26.59s.
Joseph Schooling won his third individual gold medal and fifth overall by retaining his men’s 200m butterfly title. He clocked a time of 1 minute 59.46 seconds. Joseph’s national record of 1:56.27 came in the World Championships in July 2013, when he made the semi-finals and finished in 10th place. Quah Zheng Wen joined Joseph and Zach Ong with seven individual SEA Games medals by clinching a silver in 2:01.65, repeating the same 1-2 finish that Joseph and he achieved two years ago.
This was Zheng Wen’s second race of the night. His first saw him win the 200m freestyle bronze medal in a time of 1:51.66. His versatility has seen him garner SEA Games medals in the backstroke, butterfly, freestyle and individual medley. It draws comparisons with ex-national swimmer Desmond Koh, who has won medals in all five disciplines (including the breaststroke).
Zheng Wen later teamed up with Joseph, Christopher Cheong and Clement Lim in the men’s 4x100m medley relay, where defending champions Indonesia were favoured to win. Zheng Wen led off with a 56.89s backstroke leg, nearly a second behind I Gede Siman Sudartawa’s 55.96s. The Indonesians extended their lead with Indra Gunawan on the breaststroke, while Singapore fell to third place behind Thailand after Christopher Cheong’s 1:04.51.
Joseph clocked a sizzling 51.98s butterfly split to reclaim second place and reduce Indonesia’s lead, before Clement produced another commendable relay swim with his lifetime-best split of 50.24s on the freestyle, which is the third fastest in local all-time lists.
The collective result by the Singaporean quartet was a 3:43.62 finish. Although it was 1.97 seconds behind winners Indonesia, the time was good enough to break the national open mark of 3:44.15 set at the 2009 Games, when non-textile swimsuits were not yet outlawed.
It is the closest that Singapore have come to a gold medal in this event since last winning it in 1989.
The first event of the night saw Meagan Lim win a bronze medal in the women’s 400m IM. She clocked a massive personal best of 5:01.74 to better her previous best of 5:04.01. It was her third PB in four events and also her third bronze medal.
Tao Li had won the women’s 200m butterfly title four times on the trot, but failed to extend her reign and had to settle for third place. Clocking a time of 2:14.51, she was 0.09s behind Ting Wen who picked up yet another silver medal. Thai Kittiya Patarawadee won the gold in 2:13.83.
This result meant that Thailand edged ahead of Singapore to top the women’s medal standings. Both countries have five gold medals, but Thailand won six silvers to Singapore’s five. This is the first time since 2001, when Thailand had eight golds to Singapore’s five, that our female swimmers have failed to come up tops.
The men’s team maintained their place at the top of the medal tally with six gold, four silver and three bronze medals to Indonesia’s 5-3-3. In total, Singapore’s swimming contingent won 11 gold, nine silver and 10 bronze medals to emerge as the top swimming nation at the SEA Games for the fifth straight time. Four national open marks were set, all by members of the men’s team. The last time the women’s squad failed to break a national open or under-17 mark was in 1997, when a solitary under-14 record was rewritten.
Results (finals only)
Women’s 400m IM: Meagan Lim 5:01.74 (Bronze, PB)
Women’s 50m freestyle: Amanda Lim 25.69s (Gold, Games record); Quah Ting Wen 26.52s (5th)
Women’s 200m butterfly: Quah Ting Wen 2:14.42 (Silver); Tao Li 2:14.51 (Bronze)
Men’s 200m freestyle: Quah Zheng Wen 1:51.66 (Bronze)
Men’s 200m butterfly: Joseph Schooling 1:59.46 (Gold); Quah Zheng Wen 2:01.65 (Silver)
Men’s 4x100m medley relay: 3:43.62 (Silver, national open record) [Quah Zheng Wen 56.89s, Christopher Cheong 1:04.51, Joseph Schooling 51.98s, Clement Lim 50.24s]