Spectators who watched the Singapore men's 4x200m free relay team win the South-east Asia (SEA) Games gold last night may have witnessed the start of something special.
The quartet of Joseph Schooling, Danny Yeo, Pang Sheng Jun and Quah Zheng Wen obliterated their own 2013 Games mark of 7min 26.67sec, when they clocked 7:18.14 at the OCBC Aquatic Centre to canter to victory.
It was almost 12 seconds better than Malaysia, who claimed silver with 7:30.13.
The same Singaporean foursome also claimed gold at the 2013 Games in Myanmar.
The Republic's head coach Sergio Lopez believes that this team can be groomed towards making the Rio Olympics next year.
The American said: "It's the beginning of something. We need to think big, like the Olympics and the world championships.
"I thought we could go faster.... and we are just two or three seconds off the Olympic qualifying time," added the former Bolles School coach, who revealed that team captain Yeo had been under the weather for the past few days, and was not at his best.
"I believe that they can be very good. It is just a matter of training. I really think that, by 2020, we can be a totally different country in terms of swimming.
Asian Games champion Joseph gave the team an unassailable lead from the start, clocking a new national record of 1:47.79 in the process.
Pang, 23, said: "When we saw him come back in that time, we were all fired up to do our best."
It was a lead that Singapore never gave up, with Zheng Wen bringing the race home for the team, with the partisan home crowd threatening to tear the roof off the facility with their cheers.
Zheng Wen, 18, said: "The thought (the big margin of victory) didn't cross my mind when I was swimming.
"I was just swimming my heart out for my team and the nation. I was just doing my best."
Singapore claimed gold and silver in both the men's 100m free through Joseph and Zheng Wen respectively, while Tao Li and Quah Ting Wen finished first and second respectively in the women's 50m fly.
In addition, Samantha Yeo claimed a bronze in the women's 200 IM in 2:18.77, with Vietnamese swimming sensation Nguyen Thi Anh Vien claiming the gold.
After two days, Singapore are at the top of the medal table in swimming with five golds, four silvers and three bronzes, while Vietnam are close in second place with five golds and two bronzes.
This article was first published on June 8, 2015.
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