SINGAPORE: Prior to their departure to Hangzhou, China, Singapore national swimming head coach Gary Tan knew it would not be easy to emulate the medal success of past Asian Games editions. But despite that, Tan believes that it is imperative for the swimmers to remain focused and have a positive mindset at the 2022 Asian Games.

In 2018, Singapore Aquatics brought home two golds, a silver and three bronze medals. Joseph Schooling contributed both golds from the 50m and 100m butterfly events and was also part of the Singapore team that won the bronze medal in the men’s 4 x 100 m and men’s 4 x 200m freestyle races.

Without the presence of the former Olympic gold medallist, Team Singapore only managed a silver medal in China. Teong Tzen Wei took second place in the 50m butterfly with a time of 23.34s, behind South Korea’s Baek In-chul, who set a new Games record of 23.29s.

But looking beyond the lack of medals from the Asian Games, there were five national records and 10 personal bests achieved by the national swimmers, including nine national swimmers that made the ‘A’ cut for the World Championships.

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There were 22 swimmers at the Asian Games with an average age of 22 years old, and 10 of them are making their debuts at the meet. It gives the young swimmers invaluable experience and bodes well with Singapore Aquatics’ development and preparation for future meets.

Photo credit: Sport Singapore/ Andy Chua

“This year’s Asian Games saw our team snag a record number of 4th place finishes. As the National Head Coach, this was really painful and heart wrenching to see especially knowing that so many of our swimmers had really given a good fight on every single race they swam. These 4th place finishes, most of which were narrow misses in margins as close as 0.02,” mentioned Singapore national head coach Tan in a Facebook post.

Tan explained that it was not an easy path back for Teong as he had been plagued with multiple injuries during the course of the year, and he had to build back his confidence and regain the physical abilities that he had lost since his fourth-place finish at the FINA World Swimming Championships.

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Singapore’s quartet of Quah Zheng Wen, Jonathan Tan, Ardi Zulhimi, and Mikkel Lee narrowly lost the bronze medal in the men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay race. They came in fourth place with a time of 3:14.77, finishing behind third-placed Japan by 0.51s.

“In that, our standout swimmer was Mikkel Lee who established a 47.25 on the anchor leg. These boys have shown that they can stay highly competitive in this environment. Looking forward, I do believe this relay would be one of the main relays that actually can potentially make a push toward Olympic Qualification,” added the former national swimmer Tan (pic below).

Photo credit: Sport Singapore/ Andy Chua

Team Singapore had initially thought they had won the bronze medal in the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay. But soon, it was a disappointment for Levenia Sim, Letitia Sim, Quah Jing Wen, and Quah Ting Wen when it was announced at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre that they were disqualified from the race. 

“Before the disqualification was established, we had broken the National Record by 6s. The time would have potentially placed us into the top 16 of the World rankings. A big standout for me would be Letitia’s 100 breast leg which she swam 1.05.86. This was the fastest breaststroke leg in the field on the final night,” shared head coach Tan.

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Fresh from the Asian Games, nine of Singapore’s national swimmers are heading to the World Aquatics Swimming World Cup 2023 in Berlin, Germany scheduled for Oct 6 – 10. They are Amanda Lim, Brandon Yap, Chan Junhao, Darren Chua, Darren Lim, Letitia Sim, Quah Jing Wen, Quah Ting Wen, and Quah Zheng Wen.