He was the outstanding performer on the second day of the Singapore National Swimming Championships, rewriting his own Under-17 national record in the men's 100m freestyle to meet the South-east Asia (SEA) Games 'A' qualifying mark.
But Darren Lim, 16, declined to speak after the evening finals at the Singapore Sports Hub's OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday, with his sister and national swimmer Shana escorting him away from the training pool much to the puzzlement of the waiting media.
The teenager clocked 50.62 seconds in the morning heats and 50.72 in the final, breaking the old age-group mark of 51.25 and going under the SEA Games 'A' qualifying mark of 50.83.
Speaking to The New Paper later, Gary Tan, Darren's Swimfast Aquatic Club coach explained that pressure was probably a factor.
The incoming national assistant coach said: "One of the key reasons he didn't do too well at the Asian Games (in September) was that he gave himself a lot of pressure and expectation and, looking back, he realised that.
"He came into this meet with no expectations on himself and that allowed him to do well."
A change of environment has also done the youngster well, according to Tan.
Darren moved to Plymouth College after the Asiad and now trains at the Plymouth Leander swimming club, which produced Lithuanian Olympic breaststroke champion Ruta Meliutyte.
Chantal Liew backed up the overseas training argument when the 16-year-old clocked 2min 19.87sec to win the women's 200m backstroke and meet the SEA Games 'A' timing of 2:21.19.
There was some confusion initially with the electronic scoreboard showing a slower timing, but the teen was ecstatic when the results were confirmed.
Chantal, who moved from the Singapore Sports School to the British International School in Phuket in August on a scholarship, said: "I am very happy. This timing was unexpected because I am still jet-lagged, having returned from Dubai for a friendly club meet just two days ago.
"The 200m back is all about mental strength. I was behind coming into the final lap, but I just kept pushing and pushing."
The overall top two swimmers for each event, after all the qualifying meets, will represent the Republic at the 2015 SEA Games here next June, provided they meet the qualifying marks.
Other than the ongoing national championships, swimmers can also qualify during the Singapore Swimming Association time trials next February, or the Singapore National Age-Group Championships the following month.
Chantal knows that means others could better her timing in the next two meets.
She said: "If anything, it will push me to work harder and do better for the remaining two qualifying meets."
This article was first published on Dec 18, 2014.
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