Swimming: Quah Ting Wen qualifies for SEA Games

National swimmer Quah Ting Wen books her ticket for the SEA Games 2013 in Myanmar at the final qualification meet held at Toa Payoh Swimming Complex on 28 August 2013.

SINGAPORE - She set out to beat the mark and qualify for her fifth individual race at this year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games on Wednesday night at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex and Quah Ting Wen didn't disappoint.

Quah posted a time of 26.11sec in the women's 50m freestyle, going under the 26.23 qualifying mark (the bronze-medal time from the 2011 Games) which is set to ensure a really busy swimming programme for her at the 2013 SEA Games, which will be held in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, from Dec 11 to 22.

If she does get there, that is.

As the 20-year-old prepares to head back to the University of California next Wednesday, she is still unsure if she can participate at this year's Games.

Quah, who won five gold medals at the 2009 SEA Games in Laos, will have to find a way around her school commitments if she is to take her place in the Team Singapore contingent.

Speaking to The New Paper on Wednesday night, she said: "I have to sit down and actually start planning right now if I'm going for the SEA Games - how I'm going to train and let my professors know I'm going.

"It's exciting, but it's going to be different from 2009 and a lot more work."

Along with the 50 free, Quah is slated to swim the 100 and 200 free, and the 100 and 200 butterfly, along with three relay events.

In June, Quah's fellow US-based national teammate Lynette Lim also stated that she might give the SEA Games a skip after meeting the 400m free mark, citing the awkward timing in relation to the US school season.

While the Singapore Swimming Association (SAA) is aware of the problem, the matter is out of their hands.

Said SSA president Jeffrey Leow: "These things happen all the time and we have to deal with it on a case-by-case basis.

"The Games clash with the exam period and unless they can find a way around it with their professors, it's hard. They won't know for a couple of weeks until they go back and talk to their professors.

"We can write a letter telling them we would like them to participate in the SEA Games, but the universities and professors have their own commitments and it is within their discretion.

"We really have got no control over it."

Big programme

Naturally, SSA technical director and national coach Ian Turner is hoping that Quah can make it to Myanmar.

If she does get the green light to swim, she will have to cope with a big programme for five days of swimming.

"She's done extremely well since she's come back and lifted the senior girls' team far more than we've realised," said the Englishman.

"She's brought professionalism to Singapore swimming. Her medal chances are in the freestyle and, of course, she's part of a strong relay team as well.

"The key for her is to make the right choices (in events) and not over-commit herself."

Apart from Quah, no other swimmer at Wednesday night's five-event meet met the Singapore National Olympic Council's qualifying marks for the SEA Games.

Zach Ong's time of 2:06.75 in the men's 200m backstroke was 1.60s slower than the qualifying mark of 2:05.15.

Turner said the 2009 gold medallist will most likely miss out even though slots for that event remain open.

The qualification meet has wrapped up on Thursday with seven events.

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