Story by Colin Tung/Red Sports. Photos by Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports

FINA Swimming World Cup Singapore

Tao Li of Singapore reacts after her 50m butterfly final at the concluding leg of the FINA/MASTBANK Swimming World Cup. Tao Li clinched the silver medal with a timing of 25.72 seconds. (Photo 1 © Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports)

OCBC Aquatic Centre, Sunday, November 2, 2014 — Singapore won two silvers and a bronze at the seventh and final leg of the FINA/Mastbank Swimming World Cup 2014 held on home soil. This is a short-course event where swimmers compete in 25m-lanes.

Two of those medals came in the mixed relays. Kevin Ong (backstroke), Kenneth Lim (breaststroke), Nur Marina Chan (butterfly), and Amanda Lim (freestyle) combined to win bronze in the 4x50m medley, while Russell Ong, Lukas Menkhoff, Nur Marina Chan, and Amanda Lim combined to win silver in the 4x50m freestyle.

Tao Li won Singapore’s only medal in an individual event when she placed second in the women’s 50m butterfly.

Tao Li said, “I think the short course is better for me because the other girls were … so tall and my underwater kick is much better than them so I take advantage [of that]. This silver is kind of a surprise for me because I didn’t really train much, just swim once a day. So 25.72 is a pretty good time.” The 24-year-old finished behind Netherlands’ Inge Dekker, who clocked 25.13sec.

The two mixed relays were split between the two days of competition with the 4x50m medley taking place first.

The Singapore team who won bronze in the 4x50m medley mixed relay was the only one of the seven teams — three of whom were also from Singapore — who fielded both male swimmers in the first two legs.

After Kenneth Lim touched at the end of the second leg for Nur Marina Chan to dive in with the lead, the onus was left to Marina and Amanda to sustain the charge for a podium finish.

While Marina slipped to fourth during her leg (with all other teams except one fielding a male), Amanda made up one position in the final freestyle leg to finish in a time of 1 minute 46.17 seconds, behind Russia (1:43.26) and USA (1:46.03).

Kenneth, 21, said, “It was my first time swimming the mixed relay so I was quite happy because we managed to medal in the event. It’s quite fun because I may be swimming the breaststroke leg but next to me … may be a female. Then, later, my teammate, Amanda, she swims the freestyle but there’s a male swimming the freestyle with her so it’s quite exciting.”

Kenneth also swam in two individual events, the 50m breaststroke and the 100m breaststroke, in his first major meet since resuming training this year. He notched a personal best of 28.50sec in the 50m breaststroke final, where he finished sixth of eight swimmers. South African Roland Schoeman, an Olympic, Commonwealth Games, and World champion, won the event in a time 25.86sec.

“Currently, I’m still serving NS. Quite hard to train with NS. I used to train (in 2010 and 2011) at least nine times a week. Now I’m like at two or three times a week. And I only started in May this year (after a hiatus in 2012, studying for the GCE ‘A’ Levels, and 2013, when he just commenced National Service in the military),” said Kenneth.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu and South Africa’s Chad Le Clos were the overall winners of the 2014 FINA/MASTBANK Swimming World Cup, bagging themselves USD100,000 each for their efforts throughout the series, which started in August in Doha, Qatar.

In total, over seven legs of competition, Katinka won 51 gold medals, eight silvers, nine bronzes, while Chad had 27 gold medals. During the Singapore leg, Katinka won five gold medals and two silvers, while Chad had three gold.

Chad almost added a world record (25m pool) in the 100m butterfly in Singapore, clocking 48.74sec to miss out by just 26 hundredths of a second.

“[T]oday, I was very confident. I believed that I could get the world record. I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t have got it but otherwise it’s pretty good. Singapore has always been a good place for me. I never lose in this place. Obviously, to get 27 wins, no silvers, no bronze, I’m really happy with that,” said Chad.

While the likes of Chad and Katinka can count themselves seasoned veterans of the Swimming World Cup series, Singapore’s Kathlyn Laiu was only making her second appearance. (Her first came last year, also in Singapore.)

The youngest member of the Singapore team, the 13-year-old said, “Usually for my age-group (in Singapore), I’m higher positioned. Then, this one, I’m like one of the slowest in my heats so … it was just exposure. I didn’t aim for top-three.”

When asked if there was any swimmer amongst the world-class field she admired, Kathlyn highlighted Japanese breaststroker, Runa Imai, who finished second in the 200m breaststroke final after qualifying top from the heats. “She’s 14 years old. She’s only one year older than me but she was the best in the heats. And she’s already world class. So I thought, ‘If she can do it, why can’t I?'”

Full results here

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