SINGAPORE - It has not been a swimming start for the Singapore contingent at the Fina World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
The reunited women's 4x100m freestyle relay team of Quah Ting Wen, Amanda Lim, Mylene Ong and Lynette Lim looked distinctly average when they tried to take on the national record set in 2009.
Swim queen Tao Li has been poor. Joseph Schooling, though, could raise a smile in the Singapore camp on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old clocked 1 minute 50.15 seconds in the men's 200m freestyle heats at the Palau Sant Jordi on Monday evening (Singapore time).
It was his second-best time for the stroke - Schooling's best of 1:49.47 set in May is the national record - and national head coach Ian Turner believed Schooling was ready for his pet event, the 200m butterfly, on Tuesday.
When asked if Monday's swim was a warm-up for Schooling, Turner said: "That's how we're looking at it. It is a stepping stone for tomorrow.
"I thought the boy did well. To put things in perspective, this is his No. 3 stroke behind his two fly events. This was his second-fastest swim in the 200 free and his fastest in the morning."
Schooling stunned the swimming fraternity when he clocked 1:56.67 to win gold at the 2011 South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
The time, which was a new national record, meant the Singaporean met the Olympic "A" qualifying time for the 2012 Games.
Schooling, who is studying in Bolles School, Florida, has been doing well in meets in the United States in the build-up to the World championships.
Speaking to The New Paper over the phone from Barcelona, Turner added: "I don't like predicting things, but because our swimmers are not familiar with racing fast in the morning, we will be putting strategies in place to help counter that."
As Schooling looks to make a splash on Day 3, Tao Li is clearly struggling.
She was the only Singaporean to make it past the first-round heats when she swam 58.94 sec in the women's 100m butterfly on Sunday, but the 23-year-old finished 14th out of 16 swimmers in the semi-finals with a time of 59.02 later that day.
She has failed to come close to her national record of 57.54 - clocked en route to her fifth-placed finish at the 2008 Olympic Games - in a few years now. Her poor form continued in the women's 100m backstroke heats on Monday, when she clocked 1:03.31.
Turner acknowledged that his charge has been far from her best as she builds for the SEA Games, which will be held in Myanmar in December.
But he believes that Tao Li will be set for the rest of the year if she can get her fitness up to speed.
"Tao Li has had a mixed year and she realises that her last 12 months have not been her best," said the Englishman.
"She is not as fit as she would like to be.
"That said, I left (on Sunday) night feeling very pleased with her (100m fly) swim in the morning and from what I understand, she hasn't done as much work on her backstroke.
"She still has the speed, but not the endurance. The important thing for her is that we work on her fitness to get her ready for the SEA Games."
The remaining Singaporean in action yesterday was 16-year-old Samantha Yeo, who finished 36th of 61 swimmers in the 100m breaststroke in 1:11.17.
Singaporeans in Action on Tuesday:
■ Women's 200m free: Quah Ting Wen
■ Men's 200m fly: Joseph Schooling
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