Set for the SEA Games

Set for the SEA Games

He may not have met the qualifying time, but swimmer Christopher Cheong could still be heading for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar this December.

The 17-year-old from Singapore Swimming Club was the fastest swimmer in the men's 100m breaststroke on Tuesday, the first day of the three-day final qualification meet.

The Temasek Junior College student clocked 1min 05.97sec in the event, some way off the SEA Games qualifying time of 1:02.84 - the bronze medal time at the last Games in 2011.

Relay team

But with no Singapore swimmer meeting that timing during the designated qualification meets, the breaststroke specialist is set to take the plunge at this year's SEA Games as part of the men's 4x100 medley relay team, subject to approval by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).

Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) technical director and national coach Ian Turner said: "The rules state that we've got to take our fastest qualifier to ensure we have a medley team, so it's going to be Christopher."

The youngster clinched bronze medals in the boys' 4x100m medley relay and the 100m breaststroke at the recently-concluded Asian Youth Games (AYG) in Nanjing, China.

A national-level swimmer here typically trains about 11 sessions a week, but Christopher is currently training up to six times a week owing to a hectic school schedule.

Of last night's swim, he said: "It was very tiring, I didn't have high expectations today and I just wanted to pace myself.

"I know I still have quite a lot to improve - I lack strength, for example, and that's why I always lose out from the start - and I'm hoping to step up my training soon."

Teo Jing Wen may also make SSA's SEA Games nomination list as a relay member, after winning the women's 200m freestyle event last night in 2:04.97.

The SEA Games qualifying time for the event stands at 2:03.47.

Solitary competitors

Only 16 swimmers competed in six events at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex last night, with solitary competitors in events like the men's 200m fly and the women's 100m back.

This year's SEA Games will be held in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, from Dec 11 to 22, and Turner said: "It was always going to be a depleted (start list), just those people who think they have a marginal chance (at making the Games).

"Principally we're looking at the relays and we're hoping to take six (swimmers) for each relay, but it's up to the SNOC."

On unfilled slots in the individual events, Turner said: "We've got nobody good enough (for these events), but if a swimmer is on the team via another event, then we have an opportunity (to fill the slots)."

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