Yee Chun Leong
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE national swim team are ready to go all out at the 41st South East Asian Age Group (SEAAG) Swimming Championships after putting in the work.
Brunei will be represented by nine swimmers at the Nov 10-12 competition to be held at the National Aquatics Centre of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.
Some have had more experience while it will be the first time for others competing at such a prestigious tournament - which acts as a qualifier for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It will be the fourth SEA AG for Nur Haziq Samil and he will be competing in the 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle events - which he hopes to be able to set up some new best times.
“I will try to better my personal bests and will do my best for the competition,” said the 16-year-old.
Ashley Chai, who represented Brunei at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, has a stacked schedule with the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly events.
She has returned from a quad injury which she suffered at the beginning of the year and hopes to put up a good showing.
“I want to get at least finish in the top-5 in my heat or overall in my age group,” said Ashley.
“If I can’t do that then I want to at least beat my personal bests.
“Training has been stressful because coach (Victor Tan) pushed me harder than before,” added the 16-year-old.
“Lately I have been stagnant as I was injured at the beginning of this year. It took me months to recover and then when I did I was still not at 100 per cent.
“But now I’m getting back to my usual time but I want to better it,” continued Ashley.
Dylan Chua admitted he almost threw in the towel with the difficulty he faced in juggling school and training.
However, the 16-year-old is battle ready and is looking forward to the three-day tournament.
“Preparations have been tough because we have been training like crazy over the past month. There was basically no rest period till last week,” said Chua.
“I expect to beat my time since we have been training like insane. It has been really hard balancing this and school.
“There were a few times I wanted to like give up and just drop out of this competition but I have already set my goal,” added the 16-year-old, who will be making his third appearance in SEA AG competition.
It will be a first international competition for Natasha Sia and she is in it for the experience and exposure.
“I’m swimming for the good experience. I thought swimming was hard before but when training for competition it is even harder,” said Sia, who will contested in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 50m and 100m backstroke events.
As for 10-year-old Breanna Lee, who had a good outing at the recent Brunei Open Age Group with one gold, two silver and two bronze medals, is looking forward to the competition.
“I’m really excited and nervous at the same time. When I looked at the sheet of names (of other competitors), they are really fast,” said Lee.
“I’ve also competed at the Singapore Invitational which had a lot of countries participate such as Thailand, Vietnam and Japan.
“I managed to get four pins which is for finishing in the top-eight in my age group,” she added.
Emma Yusuf will swim in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke events and she expects a tough outing.
“I’m expecting to get my times better but it will be very challenging as a lot of these swimmers are at a very high level,” said the 12-year-old, who swims with the ISB Hammerheads.
“I’m nervous but excited because this is my first time representing Brunei and many of these swimmers are very fast and I’m not as fast as them,” she added.
Andra Chai, Justin Lim and Zeke Chan round up the field of swimmers representing the Sultanate.
The opening ceremony is slated for Saturday at 8.30am and the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohammad Yussof is expected to grace the event.