Published on Monday, 10 June 2013 09:19 Written by Jake Ten
Bandar Seri Begawan - Over 30 Southeast Asian (SEA) Age Group records were broken at the 37th SEA AG Swimming Championships, as Singapore clung onto their slender lead going into the final day to claim the overall winners title.
Team Singapore topped the seven-team table with 29 gold, 24 silver and 25 bronze, and also shattered nine records to earn the Best Team award.
Despite their overwhelming medal haul of 92, Thailand were forced to settle for second place, losing out by a single gold to Singapore, whilst Malaysia completed the top three with 24 gold, 18 silver and 15 bronze.
Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, whilst Brunei remained medal-less in seventh.
Thi Anh Vien Nguyen, competing in Group 1 (16-18 years), was the most successful individual at the meet.
Her 11 gold and 2 silver made up for a third of Vietnam's total of 31 medals, whilst Nguyen also broke an astonishing seven Age Group records
Team Brunei enjoyed their own outright success after breaking six national records on the third and final day of the Championships to make it a total of 15 broken over the three days of swimming.
Nur Hamizah Ahmad swam the Girls Group 1 50m backstroke event in 32.95s.
The 18-year-old bettered both her Open and Age Group records of 33.00s, set in June of last year.
Ashley Chai also broke an age group record yesterday after swimming the 50m backstroke in a time of 34.53s.
The 12-year old shaved almost two seconds off her old record of 36.41, set in April earlier this year.
Christian Nikles broke his fifth record of the meet after completing the 100m freestyle event in 55.77s.
The time was enough to eclipse the 16-year olds previous Age Group record of 56.29, set in April 2013, but was not good enough to break the Open record.
The Brunei men's team set a new Open record in the 4 x 100m medley relay after completing the mixed-age group event in 4:23.90. There was no previous record.
The Brunei women's team also set a new Open record of their own after finishing the 4 x 100m freestyle relay in 5:11.52. Despite not registering a single medal, the aquatics head coach of Brunei Darussalam Eric Landa conceded that his swimmers still had plenty of catching-up to do.
"As much as we wanted to earn a medal for Team Brunei, realistically, we have to admit that the other teams were too strong this year for us to pull it off. We collected quite the number of 5th and 6th places here unfortunately," remarked Landa.
The nine Bruneian swimmers quadrupled the number which they had sent to previous events, which was a promising sign for the aquatics head coach.
"If we look in the past and into the nearby future, two years ago we went with two swimmers, no medal. Last year we went with two swimmers and we got one shared bronze medal (Christian Nikles, 50 free),"said Landa.
"This year the competition is definitely stronger than those last two editions and we got no medal again. We competed here with nine swimmers instead of the two in 2011 and 2012.
Landa also felt that the SEA AG Swimming Championships gave some of the younger members of the team some good exposure.
"It's good to see people like Ashley Chai and Haziq Samil enjoying their first competition representing team Brunei here. If this competition would have been overseas, they probably wouldn't have had that chance since, unfortunately, competitions like this are costly and we rely on the government to fund us," explained the aquatics head coach.
"So in that regards, it was good for more swimmers to see and taste what SEA-AG level swimming is all about. It's fast..Very fast. So if you want to be part of that, they know what to do now.. train and race hard!
"Next year the SEA-AG Swimming Championships will be hosted in June 2014 by Singapore, in their then completed sports-hub. Hopefully from the nine swimmers here, many will be able to qualify and do the country proud. And new swimmers, please keep knocking on the door to qualify and keep surprising us!"