CLARK, PHILIPPINES – “That was close!” exclaimed Quah Zheng Wen to elder sister, Ting Wen, as they proceeded to warm up for their own events.
Their youngest sister, Jing Wen, had just out-touched her rivals for the 200m butterfly crown in a SEA Games record of 2 minutes 10.97 seconds.
In the final 50m, the spectators’ thunderous applause filled the New Clark City Aquatics Center as they egged on the charging Jing Wen and Philippines’ Remedy Alexis Rule.
“I gotta get to the wall, they’re cheering for me,” thought Jing Wen as she made a mad dash to the finish. The difference between gold and silver was just .02 seconds.
Inspired by Jing Wen’s adrenaline-pumping performance, Zheng Wen continued the day’s much-anticipated storyline of a family treble to win the 100m backstroke crown in a PB, Games record and Olympic qualifier of 53.79s. Ting Wen then rewrote her own Games record for the second time in a day, clocking 54.74s in the 100m freestyle. She had gone 0.01s faster in the heats earlier in the day.
Though the Quahs set Games records aplenty, the consensus was that their performances were just “alright.” The family’s focus is on Tokyo 2020, and Zheng Wen’s Olympic qualifier didn’t even come from his pet event.
“I don’t want to just be a participant at the Olympics again. I want to go for the events that I know I can have an impact in,” said Zheng Wen, who competed in the 200m butterfly at the 2016 Olympics.
“Perhaps the 100m back might eventually be that, but as of right now, it wasn’t something I’ve been training for.”
The curse of having high aspirations was reflected in Ting Wen’s mixed feelings after the race. While she was happy with her swim, calling it an “okay swim,” she was more interested in her splits.
“26.11,” said a reporter in the mixed zone.
“Yeah, that’s too slow. I wanted to go out faster. We’ll try again, I guess,” said Ting Wen, before jumping into a post-race analysis of where she lost count of her strokes.
Zheng Wen later also contributed to Singapore’s 4x200m freestyle relay champion team alongside Joseph Schooling, Jonathan Tan and Darren Chua. The team set a Games record of 7:17.88.
Swimming at the Games continues today till Dec 9, at the New Clark City Aquatics Centre.