SINGAPORE — On an evening when Singapore's next generation of top swimmers excelled, it was Teong Tzen Wei who shone the brightest, as he obliterated the SEA Games record en route to winning the men's 50m freestyle on Thursday (19 May).
The 24-year-old regained the gold medal he last won in 2017 in a stunning 21.93sec - the second-fastest time recorded by an Asian swimmer this year after Japan's Shinri Shioura (21.91sec) and the first Southeast Asian swimmer to dip under 22 seconds.
Compatriot Jonathan Tan, the 2019 Games winner and owner of the previous Games mark of 22.25sec, came in second despite also breaking his record in 22.24sec. Vietnam's Jeremie Luong was third in 22.85sec.
"Miracles do happen," Teong told reporters in between huge gasps for air after his scintillating swim.
"I'd like to thank everyone who had been me through this journey to go under 22 seconds. It's a big moment for me, I'll soak it in and then move on, so that I can achieve better things."
While Teong's feat was the highlight on the final day of the swimming competition, Singapore's up-and-coming swimmers showed that the city-state's dominance in the pool is unlikely to wane, even as the likes of Joseph Schooling, Quah Zheng Wen and Quah Ting Wen are reaching the tail end of their illustrious careers.
Breaststroke specialist Letitia Sim began the gold rush by clinching her second gold medal in her debut Games, the 18-year-old clocking 1min 8.79sec to win the women's 100m breaststroke to add to her 50m breaststroke victory.
Malaysia's Phee Jinq En claimed the silver in 1:09.60, while Singapore's Christie Chue was third in 1:10.29.
Following Teong's winning swim, it was the youngest of the Quah siblings to shine, as Jing Wen pipped her elder sister Ting Wen to the women's 100m butterfly gold.
The 21-year-old clocked 59.15sec to edge out her 29-year-old sister (59.34sec), with the Philippines' Jasmine Alkhaldi coming in third (1:01.15).
The Quah sisters also teamed up with Chue and Gan Ching Hwee to land the final gold medal of the competition, the women's 4x200m freestyle relay. The Singapore quartet clocked 8:10.75 to finish comfortably ahead of Thailand (8:18.67) and Indonesia (8:26.24).
After six days of competition, Singapore swimmers have won 21 golds, 11 silvers and 12 bronzes to maintain their iron grip as Southeast Asia's top swimming nation.