SINGAPORE - It so nearly turned out to be a great outing for Singapore on Day 1 of the swimming programme in the TYR South-east Asia (SEA) Swimming Championships presented by Yakult yesterday.
Samantha Yeo and surprise name Dylan Koo clinched gold for the Republic after Vietnam and Indonesia won the first three events at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Vietnam's Phuoc Hoang Quy won the men's 200m freestyle and country woman Nguyen Thi Anh claimed the 400m women's freestyle, while Indonesia's Gede Sudartawa bagged the 100m men's backstroke.
In a thrilling finish to the evening's programme, the Singapore quartet in the 4x100m women's freestyle relay just missed out on a gold medal.
Thailand took home the gold after a dramatic final leg battle involving Singapore's Amanda Lim and Thai sensation Natthanan Junkrajang.
Amanda trailed her rival by a second when she dived into the pool for the final 100m, but closed the gap at the 70-metre mark.
Natthanan - gold medallist at the 2013 SEA Games in the 100m and 200m freestyle - just held on to touch the wall first in 3min 50.26sec.
Singapore finished ahead of Indonesia in 3:50.88.
Earlier, 15-year-old Dylan caused an upset when he clocked 2:03.66 in the men's 200m butterfly to clinch gold ahead of Man Phan Gia of Vietnam (2:04.51) and Thailand's bronze medallist Siwat Matangkapong (2:05.57).
The Anglo-Chinese School student was ranked fourth among the field of seven swimmers.
"I knew if I performed well, I had a shot at a medal, but (winning gold) is still a surprise," said the teenager, who has been in the national set-up for four years now.
"It wasn't my best time today. I wanted to better my personal best (2:03.33), but winning gold is definitely good consolation.
"I still have the 100m fly to go (on Thursday), and that's another one of my pet events.
"The real test is to get selected for the next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games through the trials at the end of the year."
Samantha, 17, won the first gold for Singapore in the 100m breaststroke, fending off the challenge of Thailand's Phiangkhwan Pawapotako.
The SEA Games bronze medallist in the 200m breaststroke in Myanmar last year clocked 1:12.26 to finish ahead of the Thai (1:12.56). Another Thai, Chavunnooch Salubluek (1:13.22), claimed the bronze.
Samantha felt comfortable racing in the new pool, which will be the venue for the swimming events when Singapore hosts the 2015 SEA Games next June.
"The pool felt great, and I really loved the atmosphere," she said. "I love the dome concept, which is similar to a lot of international arenas.
"Though I've been swimming at the Sports School for the past few years, the Aquatic Centre already feels like a home-ground pool."
The SEA Swimming Championships continues until Tuesday. For full results and daily schedule, visit http://www.swimming.org.sg/TYR_2nd_SEA_Swimming_Championships_2014.htm
This article was first published on June 18, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.