SINGAPORE – After a disappointing outing at the Tokyo Olympics followed by the shock departure of national swimming head coach Stephan Widmer last month, the direction of the sport has come under scrutiny of late.
But the performances at the 9th Singapore National Swimming Championships (Short Course Metres), which ended on Sunday (Nov 28), have convinced National Training Centre (NTC) head coach Gary Tan that his charges are eager to move on and “write a new chapter”.
The four-day meet at the OCBC Aquatic Centre saw 20 national records broken while seven swimmers Teong Tzen Wei, Quah Jing Wen, Pang Sheng Jun, Maximillian Ang, Ong Jung Yi, Amanda Lim and Marina Chan also qualified for December’s Fina Swimming World Championships 2021 (SCM) in Abu Dhabi.
Tan, 39, said: “From the last few meets we’ve had, to be very honest, we were under-performing to a certain extent, even at the Olympics, where things were a little bit tougher on us.
“It’s always good to come out of this slump with a renewed sense of energy with the team.
“Coming into this meet, we did not have much expectations. The coaching staff’s focus was on getting as many swimmers to the World Champs and how we wanted our athletes to go out there and start racing hard.
“We saw that today and over the last few days. It’s been really great, and I could not have asked for a better meet.”
On Sunday, Quah’s effort in the women’s 200m individual medley was another standout result. She clocked 2min 12.58sec to break Joscelin Yeo’s national record of 2:13.09 set in 2000.
The arrival of Hungarian Alex Mordvincev, Brazilian Gustavo Schirru and former national swimmer Lionel Khoo as NTC assistant coaches since August has contributed to the “feel-good environment”, said Tan.
“We got new coaches on board, just different sets of energy that we brought to the squad. The whole meet seemed more relaxed, more fired up and that’s where we actually saw a whole lot of times dropped in the process as well.
“I think the coaches on deck and the people around are more relaxed and happier, and to be very honest, I think it is the weight that has been lifted from the disappointment of the Olympics.
“It is just a case of moving on and writing a new chapter for Singapore swimming.”
While the Singapore Swimming Association have yet to announce Widmer’s successor, Tan was keen to take up the challenge.
He said: “I know I am up against capable candidates and may the best man win. But I will not shy away from this job. I want to take up the responsibility because I want to make an impact and I want to make things right for Singapore swimming.”
Teong, 24, who set three national records last week, said the new coaching additions have been “refreshing”.
He added: “The results speak for themselves. We have all done very well and you can see that the energy and vibe about the place has been different compared to before.”
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