Quah Ting Wen confident of qualifying for Tokyo Olympics
National swimmer sets sights on qualifying in March after return to long-course action at yesterday's Olympic Qualifiers
National swimmer Quah Ting Wen is confident that she is on track to qualify for next July's Tokyo Olympics, after competitive swimming resumed in Singapore at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday.
She clocked 56.42 seconds to finish second in the women's 100m freestyle at the Singapore National Olympic Qualifiers, behind Spaniard Carmen Weiler Sastre, who won in 55.49. Christie Chue was third in 56.76.
Quah's time is well off the Olympic "A" qualification standard of 54.38. Her national record stands at 54.62.
The 28-year-old had just four days to prepare for the meet, after serving a two-week quarantine following her return from competing in the International Swimming League (ISL) in Budapest, Hungary.
She also had to cope with the transition to the long-course format of yesterday's meet, with the ISL adopting a short-course format.
Long-course swimming meets, such as the Olympics, are held in 50m pools while short-course events are in 25m pools and involve more turns.
Said Quah: "It's the first time I've raced long course since the trials (in January) and it was not bad I think, considering it's been so long since we've raced.
"For me, I just came out of a two-week quarantine also... I'm excited for (the next Olympic qualifiers) in March. The way we were training before I left for Hungary, as a group, we were training really well.
"We were swimming fast during training... Once March comes around and everyone's properly tapered and rested, we can go pretty fast.
"I'm pretty confident, I swam pretty well in Hungary and I feel like I got a lot of the small details that I have been working on for a while down - in terms of underwaters and the transition from the dive to the underwaters to the breakouts to the swims."
Besides the 100m free, Quah is also eyeing the 50m free, where her national record of 24.92sec set in August last year is just 0.15sec off the Olympic "A" qualification mark of 24.77. She will be competing in the 50m free on Sunday.
Unlike Quah, who was the only Singaporean to compete in the ISL in October and last month, yesterday marked the first time many local swimmers have raced since the Singapore Swim Series I in January.
All Singapore Swimming Association-sanctioned meets after that were cancelled due to Covid-19.
The Singapore National Olympic Qualifiers, which run till Sunday, are being held under restricted conditions.
They include the absence of supporters and media, a reduction in number of athletes from over 700 to around 300 and the venue being split into four segregated zones with a maximum capacity of 50 in each.
Other restrictions include social distancing and the mandatory donning of masks for technical officials and coaches, and swimmers being encouraged to limit their use of shower facilities.
While this represents a marked change from pre-Covid conditions, SEA Games gold medallist and 50m free national-record holder Jonathan Tan, 18, said: "It's quite comforting to know that, despite the Covid-19 situation, we can still race."
Fellow SEA Games gold medallist and women's 1,500m free national-record holder Gan Ching Hwee, 17, added: "(It) really tests our adaptability skills because there's a lot of changes to our warm-up timings and it's a bit more tight in the sense we don't have much time to sit around and rest... we got to keep moving (to) the next zone."
Donovan Lee, 20, meanwhile, felt that the new conditions have placed more importance on athlete independence.
He explained: "We have to follow strict timings, we only have a set amount of time to do our warm ups and warm downs. Everything has to go through a flow.
"So we don't really have much freedom but... we are all given a chance to race and that's all that matters."