SINGAPORE - She might have been slow off the blocks this year, but swimmer Tao Li believes she's near the top of her game.
The 23-year-old butterfly specialist has won three silvers and two bronzes from three Fina Swimming World Cup (short-course) legs so far, with the next leg at the Singapore Sports School on Nov 5 and 6.
Her training earlier this year had been hampered by illness to her coach - national coach and Singapore Swimming Association technical director Ian Turner - as well as her undergraduate studies, but she also has found new purpose in hitting the deck.
In a media session at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex yesterday, Tao Li said: "The Asian Games (next year in Incheon) is my biggest goal to swim well. Lu Ying (of China) is ahead of me in the butterfly by quite a bit and I feel quite a bit of pressure to catch up.
"Also, I haven't given up hope of competing at the 2016 Olympics and winning a medal there.
"I know I must put in a lot of hard work to achieve these goals."
Similarly, Turner has noticed a shift in focus in his star swimmer.
He said: "She is showing a more positive attitude now - she arrives promptly at training sessions and there is an air of confidence about her now, which can be attributed to her swimming well at the previous World Cup legs.
"She's as focused as I've ever seen and I am very pleased with that."
Medals, while possible in the upcoming Singapore leg, are not a priority for both coach and swimmer, especially with the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar looming on the horizon.
Turner said: "The swimmers will not be tapering for this meet, with the SEA Games coming up. I am looking for good, solid performances from the swimmers, but I am not expecting scintillating times from them."
Similarly, Tao Li said: "I am hoping to hit 57 seconds for my 100m fly - I am just 0.1 second off.
"If I achieve that and don't win a medal in Singapore, I'd still be happy."
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