Team Singapore swimmer Yip Pin Xiu in action. Photo: Sport Singapore
They might not have medalled in all their races at the Singapore 2019 World Para Swimming World Series, but Toh Wei Soong and Yip Pin Xiu have shown that they can compete at the highest level against para swimmers of international caliber.
At times it must have felt that they were swimming upstream as they were thrown into the pool with swimmers from different classes, their only competition the notion of speed within their minds as they fought against themselves to place on the podium. In this case twice for Toh with gold and silver medals and once for Yip with a silver medal.
In multi-class racing points are awarded according to how the swimmers fare in relation to the world record of their respective classes and events. And in Yip Pin Xiu’s case, as the current world record holder in the women’s 50m backstroke S2 class, she was swimming against her own record timing made at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
But Yip was already prepared to race against herself. In an earlier interview she said: “It (multi-class point system) really teaches you to focus on yourself rather than your competitors. In the long run this mentality will help you improve.”
She also expressed that although the World Series in a marquee event for para swimming, it was also just one in a line of stepping stones toward Tokyo 2020.
Team Singapore swimmer Toh Wei Soong during the 50m butterfly event. Photo: Sport Singapore
For Toh Wei Soong his performances could not have peaked at a better time as he triumphed in the men’s 100m freestyle. He too echoed Yip’s sentiments about multi-class racing “In such a competition, you can't look at your competitors and think that you're going to come in faster than them. What matters is your points, so you have to swim against yourself,” Toh said.
“You just have to tell yourself, ‘You’ve done this race hundreds of times’ and then go in relaxed and just execute what you have been doing right in your career.”
Adding a silver medal in the men’s 50m butterfly capped a fine showing up the 20 year old who already has his sights set on Tokyo 2020.
Fresh out of the pool Yip was already making plans for September’s World Championships in London.
"One thing I must really focus on is increasing my ability to do 100m races, so I have to work on coming back faster, and my stroke and technique as well,” she said.
"I hope with this focus, I'll get better times soon as well. These three days have been tiring and I'm ready to take a short break before starting again and continuing to improve."