Joseph Schooling on the victory podium - Photo Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters
Swimming star Joseph Schooling won his first two golds of the Games at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Sunday while Tao Li added another gold for Team Singapore on the second day of races in the water.
The 19-year-old Schooling destroyed the meet record of 49.99s with a time of 48.58s in the men's 100m freestyle, at the same time setting a new national record and personal best.
Fellow Singaporean Quah Zheng Wen was second in 49.91s, while Vietnam's Hoang Quy Phuoc was third with 50.60s.
Schooling added his second gold in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay. Along with Danny Yeo, Pang Sheng Jun and Quah Zheng Wen, the team put up a time of 7:18.14 - setting a new Games record and national record.
Team Coach Sergio Lopez felt the time could have been even better but was pleased with the progress shown by the relay squad who had been led off in superb style by Schooling who competed his 200m in 1:47.79.
“I thought that we could go faster. I thought Joseph’s 1:47 is what he needed to do. Danny had tonsillitis and fever, he was in bed until yesterday - he went 1:50 and his best time is 1:49 so I really think we should be in the range of 7:16,” he said.
Lopez believes the relay team can be a central part of Team Singapore’s progress in swimming.
“We have to think about building this team through relays - we have to make a statement in the world, we have to make sure that at one point we can compete in the World Championships and the Olympics,” said Lopez.
“I believe it, we can be very good, it is just a matter of training, we have great leadership, we have good swimmers and we have a lot of young kids. I think by 2020 we are going to be a totally different country."
The coach said he was pleased to see the progress of Schooling in particular.
“He has grown, he has matured, he is bigger, he is stronger. He wanted to make a statement for himself and everyone. He is so proud to be Singaporean and thankful for everything that the country has done for him. I am very happy for him. He posted a top 15 time in the world in 100m freestyle,” he said.
Before Schooling, Tao Li continued her remarkable record at the SEA Games winning the 50m butterfly. Tao set a Games record time of 26.58, ahead of team-mate Quah Ting Wen who clocked 27.02. The Philippines' Jasmine Alkhaldi was third in 27.47.
Tao’s gold medal was her 25th in total at all her SEA Games competitions.
Samantha Yeo earned a bronze in the women's 200m individual medley with a personal best of 2:18.77, which Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Anh Vien won with a Games record time of 2:13.53. Thailand's Phiangkhwan Pawapotako was second with 2:18.56.