He made a breakthrough in training just before the main event, but couldn't replicate the feat at the SEA Games.
Yesterday, Singapore's Lionel Khoo failed again in his bid to go under 1 min 03sec in the men's 100m breaststroke, although he clocked a new meet record of 1:03.15 to win the event at the Neo Garden Singapore National Swimming Championships at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
The 20-year-old was hoping to post a special time in the final, after clocking a new meet record of 1:03.60 in the morning heats.
He said: "I guess I need to work on my turns and my finish as well as my stroke consistency."
National coach Sergio Lopez said the Swimfast Aquatic Club swimmer has what it takes to make at least the 'B' cut of 1:02.69 for the Rio Olympics next year, having seen Khoo go below the 1min 03sec barrier before the SEA Games.
"He is a talented breaststroke swimmer... He has a naturally good stroke and, in practice, I have seen him go faster," said Lopez.
The former Bolles School head coach believes that Khoo may have been "trying too hard" to swim fast, resulting in inconsistency in his stroke rate.
But, he added: "It's like trying to open a door; there are times where you put the right key in, but cannot open the door no matter how hard you try.
"But you can come back on another day and put the same key into the lock and it opens easily."
Khoo has been juggling his National Service duties and training, but will have more time to rest between his training sessions when his stint ends in December.
He said: "I think I am actually better than I was before, but I just need more time to understand my new racing style and, hopefully, I can progress from there.
"I've been working with Sergio and Gary (Tan, assistant national coach) on my stroke. It's a bit longer than before and more efficient, and I am hoping this will show some improvements in the future."
Meanwhile, SEA Games women's 50m breaststroke gold medallist Roanne Ho clocked an encouraging 1:11.33 to win the women's 100 breaststroke final, despite feeling ill after the morning heats. The 22-year-old has a medical condition and said: "I didn't sleep well last night because I had a nightmare that I woke up late and missed my 100m breast race and was scolded by the coach.
"I felt dizzy after my heat and hyperventilated for a while. It usually takes me about 24 hours to rest and recover, but I decided to swim in the final.
"I'd just take it as a small step forward, it still adds to my race experience."
This article was first published on June 28, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.