Schooling shows his class

ON A day when Team Singapore struggled to stamp their supremacy in the pool, Joseph Schooling showed why he is the country's top swimming prospect.

With only two events before the day's end and the nation having no golds to show for their efforts, the 18-year-old stepped up to take the Republic's only victory of the day in the 200m individual medley.

Though he was not in top form and had still not adjusted to competing in metres, having competed in yards while based in the United States, Joseph still broke the meet record with a 2min 00.82sec time, beating the previous mark of 2:02.90.

He said: "It's always good coming back to the SEA Games.

"Physically, I'm not in the best shape yet having had to do all my adapting to the 50m pool only in training. So, I came into this meet just relying on my talent and determination to race."

Still, it was a one-man race as Joseph, who was also part of the victorious 4x200m team on Thursday, led from the start. At the halfway point, he was 11/2 body lengths ahead of nearest competitor Tran Duy Khoi.

The Vietnamese eventually came in second in 2:03.81, while Ketin Nuttapong of Thailand was third in 2:05.06.

Joseph is not fully adapted to the Olympic-sized pool for the longer 200m - his national 200m IM record stands at 1:59.99 - with his last meet in it having been at July's World Championships in Barcelona.

But swimming yards in the US has given him more speed - which he is excited to show in the 100m butterfly today and also possibly in the 4x100m free, if he qualifies in the morning's trials.

Said the swimmer: "I'm very confident that I'm going to have a best time in either the 100m free or the 100m fly.

"Or, maybe both."

Meanwhile, in the controversial re-swim of Thursday's 100m freestyle after a technical error botched the race's start, Singapore's Quah Ting Wen took silver again - but this time lost to a different competitor.

While Filipino Jasmine Alkhaldi was Thursday's winner in 56.65 seconds, the re-swim saw Thailand's Natthanan Junkrajang come out tops in 56.23.

Quah, 20, had to settle for second best once again though she improved on her previous swim of 56.74 with a 56.54sec time. Alkhaldi was third in 56.63.

Said Quah: "I'm happier with how the race went today. I just wanted to give myself a real shot at it with no distractions like the day before and I got it."

She had to settle for silver again when the 4x100m team, who also included Amanda Lim, Mylene Ong and Lynette Lim, failed to retain their 2011 title.

They were beaten by Thailand, who clocked 3:47.66sec for the gold. Singapore's 3:49.00 was slower than their 2011 winning time of 3:48.38. In third place was Indonesia in 3:55.28.

The day's competition was also marred by the faulty start buzzer, which had affected the women's 100m freestyle on Thursday.

Swimmers in the men's 100m breaststroke had to be recalled after having already dived in, while the women's 400m free competitors had to line up on the blocks twice as it failed to go off the first time.

Singapore ended the day with another two bronzes from Danny Yeo (100m free), Lynette (400m free), taking the swimmers' total to four golds, two silvers, and five bronzes. The swimming competition ends on Monday.

ugenec@sph.com.sg


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