Aquatic family

Aquatic family
Swimming siblings (from left) Quah Zheng Wen, Jing Wen and Ting Wen will be competing in a major Games together for the first time at the 28th South-east Asia Games next month.

When they were younger, Quah Jing Wen and her brother Zheng Wen would be among the spectators, watching their eldest sibling Ting Wen bring glory to Singapore at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

Jing Wen has been in the stands at every SEA Games her sensational swimming siblings have competed at - cheering on as her sister made her debut in Manila, the Philippines, in 2005 and then roaring on her brother when he made his bow in Palembang, Indonesia, six years later.

This year, though, she won't be in the spectator seats at the OCBC Aquatic Centre with her parents, when the aquatic action kicks off today.

The 14-year-old Methodist Girls' School swimmer will get to join Zheng Wen and Ting Wen in the pool at the 28th SEA Games here, the first time all three Quah siblings will compete in the biennial multi-sport meet.

Jing Wen, who will compete in the women's 400m individual medley, said: "We will all be sharing the same experience and it is quite a big thing for me, because not many people get to do that.

"When I was watching them compete, I always imagined myself competing with them. It will be really exciting."

As for Ting Wen, this will be her fifth SEA Games.

But the 22-year-old already expects this Games to be her most memorable.

Not only will she be roared on by home supporters, she is also Team Singapore's flag-bearer.

"It is special because it is my sister's first one, and it is a good first SEA Games for her because it's held at home with both Zheng Wen and me around," said Ting Wen, who will race in nine events.

"Also, since it's her first, and as she has only one event, there won't be heavy expectations on her. She can enjoy her race and spend the rest of her meet watching the races."


The three siblings share a very close relationship - they were often seen at deck level cheering one another on during the Singapore National Age-Group Swimming Championships in March and the Singapore National Swimming Championships last December.

At their home, a stone's throw from West Cost Park, they often read in their free time, walk their German shepherd Koda or indulge in some first-person shooter video games.

Ting Wen said: "My sister and brother are more into video games. I try to join in, but I am the worst. They would laugh and make fun of me because my character keeps getting killed.

"Then they would go, 'jie, it's okay lah, you take a break and rest for a while'."

While they each have their own bedrooms, the siblings frequently gatecrash one another's for a casual chat, even if the person is busy.

Eighteen-year-old Zheng Wen, who completed his international baccalaureate with Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) last November with 43 out of a maximum of 45 points, said: "Sometimes Jing Wen will just come into my room when I am studying, lie on my bed and just find something to talk about.

"At times I would be like: 'Go away, I am trying to study'.

"But somehow we would find a topic and I would get distracted."

They talk about everything under the sun, but Zheng Wen and Ting Wen - being the more experienced swimmers - seldom dish out advice to their youngest sibling on how to excel in the sport.

Zheng Wen said: "She is quite mature for her age. She has done enough racing and talked to us enough to know how we feel about most things, and how things work during the Games.

"She is quite independent actually, and we give her advice only when she asks for it."


Still, Jing Wen has had to learn to live with the inevitable comparisons with her illustrious siblings - Ting Wen holds six national records, including three relays, competed at the 2008 Olympics and was the most valuable athlete at the 2009 Asian Youth Games here.

Zheng Wen holds five individual national records, competed at the London Olympics in 2012 and has already clocked an 'A' timing in the men's 200m fly for the Rio Olympics next year.

Jing Wen said: "A lot of people always ask me this question - do you get a lot of stress because your siblings have accomplished so much?

"My parents and coaches have told me to swim for myself and be my own person, so I have learnt to step up on my own, even though I have been kind of in their shadows."

Ting Wen added: "When people see a whole family of swimmers, there are bound to be comparisons.

"Zheng Wen and I have our own thing going, mostly because I'm a girl and he's a boy and it's hard to compare, but then they look further down to Jing Wen and wonder what events and meets she is going to excel in.

"Sometimes I worry that Jing Wen may get affected by the comparisons, but having all three of us together at this SEA Games will hopefully give her some confidence and allow her to realise that she can be her own person and figure out what she wants from the sport."

Siblings Quah Ting Wen, Quah Zheng Wen and Quah Jing Wen will be taking part in a total of 22 events at the SEA Games.

Fact files

NAME: Quah Ting Wen 

BIRTHDAY: Aug 18, 1992


EVENTS AT 2015 SEA GAMES (9): Women's 50m free, 100m free, 200m free, 50m fly, 100m fly, 200m fly, 4x100m free, 4x200m free, 4x100m medley

DID YOU KNOW: Ting Wen has a keen interest in designing clothes. She likes browsing through magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. She would then draw her own designs when inspiration struck.

NAME: Quah Zheng Wen

BIRTHDAY: Sep 29, 1996


EVENTS AT THE 2015 SEA GAMES (12): Men's 100m free, 200m free, 50m fly, 200m fly, 50m back, 100m back, 200m back, 200m IM, 400m IM, 4x100m free, 4x200m free, 4x100m medley

DID YOU KNOW: Zheng Wen is not just an avid reader of fantasy books, he is also a budding artist. The 18-year-old loves to draw dragons and other mystical creatures on his computer with the help of a digital drawing tablet.

NAME: Quah Jing Wen 

BIRTHDAY: Dec 20, 2000


EVENTS AT THE 2015 SEA GAMES (1): Women's 400m IM

DID YOU KNOW: She is the most extroverted of the three siblings and warms up to people easily. She can banter rather well too, according to Ting Wen, who said: "Sometimes Zheng Wen and I make fun of her and she would surprise us with her comebacks."

This article was first published on June 06, 2015.
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