He has been aiming to break that age-group national record for more than a year.
But, when Maximillian Ang, 13, finally rewrote the Under-14 400m individual medley mark at the Singapore National Swimming Championships at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday, he looked shocked.
"I didn't think I would do so well, I was shocked when I looked at the board for my timing," said the Singapore Sports School (SSP) student, who finished fourth in 4min 48.13sec to erase Dylan Koo's mark of 4:49.51 set last year.
Malcolm Low, 17, of Singapore Swimming Club, won the event in 4:33.80.
Maximillian, who hails from Swimfast Aquatic Club (SAC), had come close to his target in the morning heats with 4:50.31.
But he started poorly in the final, and was second-last after the first 100m in butterfly.
"I was confident of catching up because my backstroke and breaststroke are definitely stronger than my fly, and I knew I was strong in finishing," said the 1.71m-tall teenager, who won three golds at the South-east Asia Age-Group Swimming Championships in June this year.
He clocked 4:54.11 in June, and attributed the significant drop in timing last night to SSP overseas training stints in New South Wales and Kunming between June and this week.
His SSP coach Leonard Lim feels that his protege has a good chance of making the Olympics in 2020, and may make the South-east Asia Games team in 2017.
SAC head coach and former national swimmer David Lim also feels that Maximillian is a talent to be nurtured.
He said: "He definitely has the talent, but he can still do a lot more in training and he's still growing.
"He can do the IM, breast or free, and could do well in the 400m IM at the SEA Games in the future. The fact that the 400m IM is not a well-participated event at the SEA Games also works to his advantage."
Siblings Quah Zheng Wen and Ting Wen were the only swimmers to beat the SEA Games' 'A' qualifying marks last night.
Zheng Wen, 18, clocked 53.63sec in the men's 100m fly to go under the 53.93 'A' mark, while Ting Wen, 22, clocked 2:01.46 in the women's 200m free.
But their youngest sibling, Jing Wen (who turns 14 today), missed out on the qualifying time despite winning the women's 200m fly in 2:22.37.
The 'A' mark for the biennial Games is 2:14.51.
While Jing Wen is disappointed at not clocking good times this week despite "training well" before the meet, Zheng Wen is not fretting about it.
He said: "Sometimes at home, we (Zheng Wen and Ting Wen) would give her some feedback about her races, usually we will give our input if she approaches us.
"But she is still very young and has a long way to go."
SWIMMERS WHO BEAT THE SEA GAMES 'A' MARKS
Men's 100m fly (qualifying mark 53.93sec): Quah Zheng Wen (53.63)
Women's 200m free (2:02.62): Quah Ting Wen (2:01.46)
Men's 400m IM: Maximillian Ang, 4:48.13 (new U-14 record)
This article was first published on December 20, 2014.
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