Swimming: National Championships to use knockout sprint format

The Straits Times by SHAMIR OSMAN

Former Singapore swim queen Joscelin Yeo believes spectators are in for a treat at the June 20-23 Neo Garden 14th Singapore National Swimming Championships, and not just because Singapore's first Olympic champion, Joseph Schooling, is competing.

The 22-year-old will be racing in Singapore for the first time since his nine-gold haul at the 2015 SEA Games, and his presence at the OCBC Aquatic Centre will be made all the more exciting by the Mare Nostrum Monaco racing format that will make its Singapore debut at the meet.

Utilised specifically for all 50m sprint events, this particular segment of the championships is named the Neo Garden Sprints.

In essence, it is a knockout format that will see sprinters face off in heats, then quarter-finals (20 swimmers, based on best times in the heats), semi-finals (10 fastest swimmers), culminating in a five-swimmer face-off for the crown - with all four races taking place on the same day. The top three male and female swimmers in each 50m race will receive cash prizes courtesy of title sponsor Neo Garden.

"This format creates more opportunities for quality racing, and it challenges the mental and physical capacity of the swimmer towards a high-performance environment," said Yeo, who is now the Singapore Swimming Association's vice-president for swimming. "Moreover, this engaging and exciting swimming concept will definitely be a treat for the spectators in attendance."

The format has already been utilised at the Mare Nostrum Tour in Monaco, and at the Queensland Championships last year.








"It is the first time that I am racing in this format, and it is going to be exciting. I think the fans will enjoy it and I cannot wait to compete," said Schooling, whose last competitive appearance came at March's NCAA Championship where he did not make the podium.

"I have been training with the team since my return and am loving being back home.

"The National Swimming Championships is part of my and the team's preparations for the upcoming Asian Games and we will see some fast times from the team."

The Asian Games will be held in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang from Aug 18 to Sept 2.