Record-breaking machine Zachary, 11 makes it to 11 new-age group records in 11 events

FUTURE STAR: Zachary Ian Tan voted Boys’ Most Valuable Swimmer.

Young Zachary Tan completed one of the most dominant performances in a local pool at the end of the Singapura Finance 46th Singapore National Swimming Age Group (SNAG) Championships yesterday.

Zachary, who will turn 12 in June, swam in 11 events, won 11 gold medals and set 11 new meet records at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

Along the way, he smashed Joseph Schooling's Boys' 400m individual medley meet record (12-year-olds) by nearly 26 seconds.

Zachary represents Swimfast Aquatic Club, and his coach Leonard Tan cautioned against making any comparisons between Zachary and Asian Games champion and Olympic hopeful Schooling.

"Zach is his own swimmer," Tan told The New Paper yesterday. "It would be unfair to compare them.

"Zach is good and has potential, but we have to take it one step at a time to avoid any extra pressure."

Zachary's father Noel agreed, saying it was still "too premature" to set lofty goals.

"Zach is still only 12," he said. "It's more important that he continues to enjoy swimming."


Dad knows the potential pitfalls and hopes his son would stay motivated and committed to swimming, adding: "As his parents, we are only supporters and it's up to him to push himself to improve."

After setting a new meet record in the 100m butterfly with a time of 1:02.76sec yesterday, Zachary won the 200m freestyle in 2:09.04 - shaving 2.75sec off the previous meet record.

He also set new meet records for the 50m breastroke (33.12) and the 100m freestyle (58.68).

Of course, he announced his intentions on Friday, when he clocked 4:48.84 to win the 400m individual medley, obliterating the old record of 5:14.75 by a whopping 25.91.

While happy, Zachary is taking everything in stride.

He said: "I trained hard for the past few months and I wanted to take this (the meet) as a time trial to see if my timings were improving. "Not all of my timings were better than expected, but it was a good meet and I'm really happy."

The Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) student hopes to one day represent Singapore in the Asian Games and South-east Asia (SEA) Games. For now, he is setting his sights on next month's National Schools Championships.

"I'm hoping for a new personal best time then," said Zachary.

Zachary and 10-year-old Ashley Lim were crowned the Boys' and Girls' Most Valuable Swimmer at the meet.

Ashley, who represents the Singapore Swimming Club, won four gold medals en route to four new meet records in the 200m IM, the 200m freestyle, the 100m backstroke and the 100m freestyle.

Charity Lien and Natalie Ho also made a splash yesterday.

Charity won the Girls' 200m backstroke in 2:29.70, breaking current national swimmer Shana Lim's 11-year-old age-group mark of 2:30.08.

Singapore sprint star Amanda Lim's 200m freestyle mark of 2:14.93 had stood for 13 years, but Natalie lowered it to 2:12.26 yesterday.

The junior session of the SNAG Championships concluded with a total of 39 new meet records.

The seniors will begin their battle tomorrow in a meet which will be the final qualifier for this year's SEA Games.

This article was first published on March 16, 2015.
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