Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Star : Welson aims to break Jeffrey Ong's 25-year record in France


Welson has a personal best of 15:35.63 in the 1,500m freestyle.
PETALING JAYA: A better-prepared Welson Sim will take a shot at erasing the oldest national swimming record held by former Asian Games silver medallist Jeffrey Ong in the 1,500m freestyle when he swims in the Mare Nostrum meets in Canet-en-Roussillon, France, on Thursday and in Barcelona, Spain, this weekend.

Jeffrey’s mark has stood for 25 years.

The 1,500m freestyle was not on the programme in the first meet of the Mare Nostrum Tour in Monaco.

Welson splashed to silver in the 400m freestyle in 3:50.66, just slightly off his national record of 3:50.40, and added a bronze in the 200m freestyle, which was won by world record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany.

The 19-year-old Welson made clear his intentions of going after Jeffrey’s record – 15:23.61 set in 1991 – by clocking a personal best of 15:35.63 at the Malaysian Open last month.

Sarawak-born Welson’s time dipped below the B Olympic mark of 15:46.79, but it’s the A qualifying time of 15:14.77 that he’s going after.

Welson is guaranteed to swim in the 200m and 400m freestyle races in Rio de Janeiro after making the A cut at the Singapore national age-group meet in March.

Welson and woman breaststroke specialist Phee Jinq En underwent a two-week training stint in Melbourne, Australia, before leaving for the Mare Nostrum Tour.

“They worked on their endurance. It was difficult to get into Australia as they have tightened their rules. China swimmers used to go there but, after the drug issues with Sun Yang (of China), Australia no longer entertains foreign swimmers,” said Paul Birmingham.

“We were lucky as I know the coach in Melbourne and we managed to get the clearance to train there. Welson trained with Mack Horton, who is the world No. 1 ranked swimmer in the 1,500m this year.

“I don’t know whether Welson can get the A time, but he has a chance to get a personal best ... then we’ll see whether it’s good enough to take him to the Olympics,” added the Australian coach.

The second leg of the Mare Nostrum will see a glittering cast of Olympic and World Championships medallists competing. They include Hungary’s Hosszu Katinka, South Africa’s Chad Le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh, Japan’s Kosuke Hagino and Britain’s Guy James.

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