Zachary Ian Tan thinks he could have done better at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last week.
Over the course of four days, Zachary (right) swam in 11 events, won all of them and set 11 new meet records.
But, when The New Paper asked him to rate his performance at the Singapura Finance Singapore National Age Group Championships, he said: "I would give myself nine points out of 10.
"I'd still need to work on some of my turns and underwater kicks."
It's pretty humbling.
He absolutely smashed Joseph Schooling's 400m individual medley meet record for 12-year-olds of 5min 14.75sec, which stood for eight years, when the Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) student clocked a time of 4:48.84, but the 11-year-old feels he could have gone even faster.
His coach at Swimfast Aquatic Club, Leonard Tan, concurred, when he said: "There is always room for improvement when it comes to his technique, as well as his turns and starts.
"But, working with him has been a joy because he is very easy to coach.
"He is internally driven and, in that aspect, he is the same as Joe," he added, referring to Schooling, who used to train at Swimfast.
Mum Jillian says Zachary was introduced to swimming "because he was so active, we had to find an outlet for all his energy".
"After he started swimming. he could eat and sleep better. That made life better for us!" she recounted, laughing.
While most beginners find freestyle the easiest stroke to master, Zachary had little problem with butterfly.
He slowly made a name for himself in junior championships, before making a splash at the same age-group meet last year, rewriting 10 meet records.
He has already taken a dip with the big boys, having competed at the Singapore National Swimming Championships last December in several events.
Dad Noel said: "Unlike the junior meets, where we could be on deck with him to help, we were restricted to the spectators' gallery for that meet and he had to do everything himself, like reporting to the call room."
Zachary enjoyed the experience, and added: "I felt very happy that I could handle myself among the other competitors and felt very independent.
"I was more excited than nervous, and I'll be doing it again this week (among the seniors in the 1,500m freestyle)."
His child has lofty goals, like swimming at the Asian Games, but Noel's wish is simple.
He said: "We all know how limited the life span of a swimming career can be, so we just want him to be a good person, with discipline and self-motivation."
This article was first published on Mar 18, 2015.
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