PETALING JAYA: Malaysian teenagers Welson Sim, Wong Fu Kang and Phee Jinq En (pic, below) stamped their mark as the region's brightest prospects in the pool with record-breaking efforts in the 39th South-East Asian Age-group Swimming Championships in Danang, Vietnam.
Welson brought his memorable season to a close by completing a sweep of the middle and long distance titles in the boys' 16-18 age category for the second successive year.
He powered his way to a personal best of 15:35.66 in winning the 1,500m freestyle – and enjoyed the satisfaction of beating home favourite Lam Quang Nhat.
Welson improved on his previous meet record of 15:57.51.
The Vietnamese, who is also the reigning SEA Games champion and record holder for the 1,500m freestyle, came in second in 15:48.05.
The 18-year-old Welson had earlier beaten Quang Nhat to the 400m freestyle gold medal in superb fashion. He clocked 3:54.97 to shear nearly six seconds off his own meet record of 4:00.45, which he set last year.
On Saturday, Sarawak-born Welson started by smashing his own 200m freestyle meet record of 1:52.62 by clocking 1:49.32. He got his fourth gold in the 100m freestyle in 51.50.
Singapore SEA Games gold medallist Wong Fu Kang was not to be outdone. He won both the 50m and 100m breaststroke events in the same age group as Welson's.
The Phuket-based 17-year-old smashed Singaporean Darrin Lam’s record of 29.68 set in 2012 by winning the 50m breaststroke in 29.43, and completed his winning act by clocking 1:04.12 in the 100m event – erasing the previous mark of 1:04.85 set by Christopher Cheong of Singapore last year.
|Malaysian freestyle swimmer Welson Sim at the Singapore SEA Games in June. - the STAR Filepic|
Jinq En was also in the mood.
She clocked 1:10.63 to break former Malaysian SEA Games champion Christina Loh’s record of 1:11.29, set in 2011, for the girls’ 100m breaststroke gold medal in the 16-18 age category.
The 18-year-old from Selangor secured her hat-trick of breaststroke titles by claiming the 50m (32.65) and 200m (2:39.86) gold medals as well.
“It’s been a long and exhausting season for these group of swimmers, starting from the Malaysian Open in March in Bukit Jalil ... credit to them for still being able to break meet records despite having little time to rest,” said national coach Paul Birmingham Thomas
Malaysia’s Foong Wei Tze finished joint champion with Singapore’s Teong Tzen Wei in the boys’ 16-18 age group 50m freestyle event. Both clocked 23.94, with Welson taking bronze in 24.23.
Sarawak-born Angela Chieng came out tops in the girls’ 16-18 age group 400m and 800 freestyle races while Nadia Adrianna Redza won in the girls’ 400m individual medley.