For the past three months, national swimmer Quah Zheng Wen has had "a gap" in his life.
The 17-year-old is used to a schedule of 10 or 11 training sessions a week, but was forced to cut down his load by at least half to focus on his final year in the International Baccalaureate programme at the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).
That explained the Olympian's surprise when he rewrote his own national record in the men's 100m backstroke on Thursday at the Singapore National Age-Group Swimming Championships at the Singapore Sports School.
The Swimfast Aquatic Club swimmer clocked 55.99sec to erase his previous mark of 56.11, clocked when he collected a silver medal at the South-east Asia Games in Myanmar in December.
"I have not been training a lot in the past few months because I am in my final year and it has been hectic," the beaming teenager told The New Paper on Thursday night, amid the back slaps and congratulations from parents, fellow swimmers and coaches.
"Because of the fewer sessions, my coach Gary (Tan) gave me more strength-based training instead, which would be beneficial in the shorter distances like the 50m, but not too much in the 100m.
"That's why (the new record) is a huge surprise for me."
Former national swimmer Tan said the strength training was necessary as it was a weakness in Zheng Wen.
Tan added that his protege will embark on a new phase of training next month.
Zheng Wen's swim on Thursday saw him qualify for both the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing from Aug 14 to 26, as well as the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, from Sept 19 to Oct 4.
The backstroke specialist has also made the relay teams for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from July 23 to Aug 3.
The teenager says he will have to drop one of the three meets from his schedule this year.
"I'll definitely not go for all three meets since my final exams are in November and my prelims are a month before," he said.
"I'll talk with my coaches before coming to a decision."
There was more joy for the Swimfast Club when Zheng Wen's club-mate, Tan Jing-E, erased Chan Fang Yi's girls' Under-14 national 100m backstroke record of 1min 6.01sec last night, posting a winning time of 1:05.76.
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