BY LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Youngsters Welson Sim and Phee Jinq En kicked up a storm for Malaysia in their first participation in the prestigious Mare Nostrum Tour swim meet in Monaco.
Rio Olympic-bound Welson, despite feeling the effects of jet lag, snatched a silver in the men’s 400m freestyle A with an impressive time of 3:50:66 on Saturday.
It’s the second fastest time the 19-year-old has posted in the 400m freestyle. His fastest was the national record of 3:50.33 which he posted at the Singapore national age-group meet in March to dip under the Olympic A qualifying time of 3:50.40.
South African Devon Brown held off Welson on the last lap to clinch the gold in 3:49.96.
Eighteen-year-old Jinq En was not to be outdone either, making the podium in the women’s 100m breaststroke.
Jinq En clocked 1:09.18 for silver in the women’s 100m breaststroke A final behind Canadian Kierra Smith, who won in 1:08.94.
Another Malaysian swimmer, Erika Kong, was seventh in the B final with 1:13.93.
Jinq En made the A final with the fifth fastest time of 1:11.02 earlier before stepping up the pace.
Welson also swam the 100m freestyle but finished eighth in the A final in 51.16.
The swimmers made the trip to Europe three days ago and coach Paul Birmingham Thomas was pleased with their performances.
“It was a good outing for our swimmers although they’re still tired from the travelling,” he said.
“Welson’s last 200m was very strong. The goal was for him to take it a little faster on the first 200m. But he still felt heavy from travel, so we reverted to the old race plan.”
Jinq En had a heavier workload on Saturday as she took part in the Speed Tournament (only for the 50m breaststroke, freestyle, butterfly and backstroke races).
She topped the timesheets throughout the preliminary, last-16 and quarter-finals for the women’s 50m breaststroke.
The Singapore SEA Games 100m breaststroke gold medallist stopped the clock twice at 31.83 in the preliminary and quarter-finals.
Erika’s campaign came to an end after she was placed 11th in the last-16 (33.45).
“Jinq En swam three 50m breaststroke races and two over 100m distances ... but she managed them well,” said Birmingham.
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry and Chad Le Clos of South Africa are among the Olympic gold medallists competing at the first stop of the Mare Nostrum Tour.
The next two meets are in Canet-en-Roussillon, France (June 8-9) and in Barcelona, Spain (June 11-12).