Zheng Wen in 'pain'after a tough schedule

He has been dubbed the "Iron Nose" by his teammates and swam a phenomenal 12 events at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here earlier this month.

But Singapore swimmer Quah Zheng Wen was in a lot of pain after the first day of the Neo Garden Singapore National Swimming Championships at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last night.

After winning both the men's 100m backstroke and 100m butterfly, The New Paper asked him to rate how much pain he was in, on a scale of 1 to 10.

"I would say 11, right after my races, but now simmering down to a 7," said the 19-year-old (right and inset), who won seven golds, four silvers and a bronze at the SEA Games.

While the national long-course championships were held last December, the three-day meet this year comes just two weeks after the SEA Games swimming competition.

National coach Sergio Lopez explained that the change was to align Singapore to the international calendar.

Said the American: "We are trying to swim at an international level and we need to adapt to that.

"For the long-term development of Singapore swimming, we need the Nationals to be in July, ideally.

"But it would be too difficult to do that because of schools and examinations, and this time the problem was that the SEA Games was placed two weeks before this."

Only six of the 33 swimmers under his charge at the National Training Centre have rested ahead of this meet, including Quah, who has only three events.

Lopez said: "I believe he has a chance to make the Olympic 'A' cut for the 100 fly, 100 back and 100 free, and this is our best bet because we didn't know if he'd make it to the world championships.

"So he is doing only three events."

The backstroke specialist is due for National Service next month.

Lopez has previously raised the possibility of the men's medley team making the cut for Rio, with the top 12 teams at the World Championships earning an automatic Olympic spot.

But the unfortunate timing of Quah's enlistment and the world meet will almost certainly end that dream.

He said: "In the medley relay, we don't have another 54-second swimmer (like Zheng Wen)... In the 4x100 relay we could take Darren Lim to the Worlds, but he can perform at a high level at the Junior Worlds (here in August) and it would be unfair to take that experience out of him."

This article was first published on June 27, 2015.
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