It was billed as her comeback Games, a stage for her to make a big splash and assert her status as one of the region's star names.
A surfing injury had stalled Quah Ting Wen's progress in the pool and the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar was supposed to be her big moment.
But it turned out to be a disaster.
Speaking to The New Paper recently, the 22-year-old said: "It was one of my worst meets ever. I wouldn't say that I was in a bad place but at that point, my mind wasn't completely there at the Games, even though I was okay physically.
"It was college season and I was trying to qualify for the school championships. I was tired.
"I had one bad day, couldn't keep myself up the next day and it just spiralled downwards."
The communications studies graduate from the University of California finished second in all four of her individual events, then claimed two golds and a silver in the relays.
She is looking for a very different finish at next month's Games on home soil.
Quah will swim in nine events - the freestyle and butterfly races over 50m, 100m and 200m, and the three relays - from June 6 to 11 at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
The Team Singapore flag-bearer said: "When I look back, I realise that sometimes I take myself too seriously and I put myself under a lot of pressure.
"There will be a lot of people watching us and that adds on to the pressure that we athletes face.
"But I've come to realise that as much as we want to do them and our country proud, we have to compete for ourselves.
"I cannot control how the crowd reacts to my results, but I can control how much work I put in now and how I approach my race on the day itself.
"At the end, I am going into the water on my own."
Quah broke her arm in 2011 in a surfing accident in the US but she has since emerged from that dark period of her life.
Despite having more than 10 years of competitive swimming under her belt, she still feels the butterflies in her stomach before each race, regardless of the level of competition.
The 2008 Olympian said: "I've been told that if I am completely calm before a race, it means I am complacent or not hungry enough.
"I still feel nervous before every race, even if it is an easy meet, because I have personal goals I want to achieve."
Striving for, and achieving, those targets help motivate her to continue on the tough and lonely journey of an elite swimmer, which entails waking up in the wee hours of the morning almost every day to train.
She said: "I want to do well because I want a reason to keep doing what I enjoy doing.
"Sometimes, it is really hard to wake up at 4.15am and jump into cold water to train at 5am, when it's still dark outside and everyone else is sleeping.
"I need a reason to keep doing what I love, because it's really not easy sometimes."
There may just be a clutchful of golden reasons next month to sustain her.
This article was first published on May 30, 2015.
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