Ready, able and confident

Ready, able and confident

I have done it before and I can do it again.

Singapore swimming star Quah Zheng Wen insists he will be able to handle the workload at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games here next month at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

Quah will be swimming in an unprecedented 12 events at the Games, and when one factors in the morning heats as well, the 18-year-old is set for a very busy time next month.

The six-day swimming programme will be held from June 6 to 11, and if he sticks to the plan, Quah will be in battle every day.

That will also include the much-hyped head-to-head clash with Singapore's reigning pool king Joseph Schooling in the 50m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley.

Speaking to The New Paper recently, Quah said: "I managed to do it at the Singapore National Age-Group Swimming Championships (SNAG) this year, even though it is not as high a level as the SEA Games.

"It was difficult and taxing on my body then because I had to go fast in both the heats and the finals, because Sergio (Lopez, national coach) wanted us to learn to do that.

"But I pulled through in the end, and for the SEA Games I wouldn't have to do that; I just have to make sure that I swim fast enough to get into the evening finals."

The format of the six-day SNAG mirrors that of the SEA Games swimming competition, and it is one reason Quah, the holder of five national records, is confident he can cope.

Dubbed the "Iron Nose" - a medicine ball hit him on the nose once and Quah was unscathed - by teammates, he said: "It's two events a day over six days. If I rest and recover properly after each swim, it's not too bad."

His confidence has been given a massive boost after he clocked 1min 56.85sec in the men's 200m butterfly at the Spanish Open in March to go under the Olympic 'A' mark of 1:56.97.

While that time would have made him the first local swimmer to qualify for next year's Olympics, the meet is not used as an Olympic qualifying event.

Quah, the second of three swimming siblings, believes he has yet to hit peak form.

"People train years for the Olympics, and all I've done is to train for about five months, after pretty much no swimming for half a year," said the 2012 Olympian, who took a break after the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last July to focus on his International Baccalaureate exams last November.

MORE TRAINING

"If I can do that (Olympic 'A' timing) with that amount of time, I can do better with more training and concentration."

He will be aiming to clock more 'A' timings at the SEA Games, although he has yet to discuss with Lopez which events he has the best shot at achieving that.

Beyond medals and timings, the lanky swimmer hopes to inspire young children in Singapore.

Quah said: "I want to do my best, do Singapore proud, hopefully set an example for the younger generation, and set a change in motion.

"If Singapore, as a whole, does well, we could actually begin to change the mindset of Singaporeans and bring a greater awareness to sports, to bring it to the next level here."

sayheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 18, 2015.
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