July 18 Swimmers in top form set to hit new marks

Big names: Tao Li (above) and Joseph Schooling will be the Singapore swimmers to watch at the world meet.

SINGAPORE - Personal bests and national records are on the cards from the eight swimmers representing Singapore at the Fina World Aquatic Championships, which will take place from July 28 to Aug 4 in Barcelona.

The team this year boast five Olympians - Tao Li and Joseph Schooling, Quah Ting Wen, Lynette Lim and Mylene Ong. The others are Danny Yeo, Amanda Lim and Samantha Yeo.

Said national coach and Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) technical director Ian Turner: "They are preparing really well - they trained with the Asian Youth Games squad for the past two Saturdays and are looking really good.

"The targets will be personal bests, performing better than their world rankings and some national records, although I wouldn't want to speculate about who might break them because all of them look good."

The swimmers who have hit form in recent months will almost certainly be counted on to set new marks.

Bolles School student Schooling, 18, rewrote national marks in the men's 200m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte in May.

Danny Yeo broke his own national men's 100m free record at last month's Singapore National Swimming Championships with a 50.51sec swim in the final.

Samantha Yeo, 16, claimed national Under-17 records in the women's 100m and 200m breaststroke at the same meet, held at the Singapore Sports School.

Her time of 1min 10.49sec in the 100m breaststroke is just shy of Nicolette Teo's national mark of 1:10.15, set at the 2007 South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

The world meet will also serve as a SEA Games qualifier.

The Asian Youth Games in Nanjing next month and a special meet at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex from Aug 27 to 29 will be the final two meets that will act as qualifiers for this year's SEA Games, which will be held in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, from Dec 11 to 22.

In an unprecedented move, the SSA designated last month's national championships as the sole qualifying meet for this year's SEA Games.

But, of the 26 individual events that will be contested in December, only 10 saw the two top finishers meet the qualifying times. The remaining 16 events either saw one swimmer qualify, or none at all.

It means swimmers can only vie to qualify for the slots that are still open.

Training stint

The team will depart for a week-long training camp in Girona, Catalonia, tomorrow, and will be based at the Grup Excursionista i Esportiu Gironi sports club until July 24. They will then move to Barcelona.

Schooling will fly in to Girona from the United States, where he is based, along with Tao Li, who went back to Hubei, China, to train after the national championships last month.

The team will be supported by Turner, team manager Aloysius Yeo, Swimfast Aquatic Club coach David Lim and Schooling's coach, Olympic medallist Sergio Lopez.

Tao Li, who won four individual golds (50 fly, 100 fly, 200 fly, 100 backstroke) and three relay events at the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang, didn't particularly enjoy the recent national championships, only qua­li­fying for the 100 fly (her pet 50 fly event is not on the programme in this year's Games).

Turner, though, is not worried.

"I will have a talk with her (on her training arrangements) while we are in Spain," he said. "But you don't have to worry about her, she is a world-class swimmer."