THE Selangor Amateur Swimming Association (Sasa) are on track to dominate the sport at the Malaysia Games this year.
Sasa have good reason to look ahead to the Games, scheduled for Kangar, Perlis in June, following their impressive results at the recent Selangor Age Group Swimming Championships held at Darul Ehsan Aquatic Centre in Shah Alam.
The championships in Shah Alam, organised with support from Milo, Arena and Dzar Global Holdings (Fastrack), attracted about 800 swimmers from 15 clubs — Pade-Supersharkz, Stingray, Kelab Shah Alam, Sri KL Sharkies, Kota Permai GCC, Piranhas, Cempaka, Klass Torpedoes, Sonic, Subang Jaya Community Swimming Club, Royal Klang Club, Klang Executive Club, Anakair, Johor and Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School.
Sasa also scheduled the long distance events — 800m and 1,500m — on the opening day. This allowed more swimmers to take part in the longer events as it did not clash with the short distance races that were held over the next three days.
The championships’ technical director Ong Jin Kooi, who is also Sasa deputy president, said they were happy with the encouraging response for the long distance events.
“Normally the participants will skip these events to concentrate on the shorter distances.
“The signs are encouraging and we are confident of grooming swimmers for the long distance events as well,” said Jin Kooi.
“We are also pleased with their performances as it was an excellent platform for us to identify swimmers for the Malaysia Games, as well as other national competitions like the National Age Group and Malaysia Open championships.
“School-going swimmers are preparing for the Selangor Schools Sports Council (MSSS) championships and the Milo-Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) championships.
“These competitions will be part of our preparatory programme for the Malaysia Games,’’ added Jin Kooi.
In the last Malaysia Games, staged in Pahang, Selangor dominated the pool with 13 gold medals. But despite this success, Selangor have set modest targets for the national Games.
Jin Kooi said they were not prepared to make any predictions as it would only put pressure on their swimmers, but added that with about six months to concentrate on the training programme, there was a chance of them doing well again.
“We will be ready to put up a strong challenge in the Malaysia Games,’’ he said.
Notwithstanding this, several established swimmers made their presence felt during the four-day championships in Shah Alam and among them were Yap Siew Hui, Nadia Adrianna Redza and Yeap Zheng Yang.
Siew Hui, a student at the Bukit Jalil Sports School and representing Stingray, won six gold medals and a silver. She also set two new state records in the girls 15-17 age group.
Nadia, taking part in the girls’ 13-14 age group, did even better and won 10 golds and four silvers. She also set four state and two championship records. For her outstanding performance, she was duly voted the overall champion in the girls’ category.
Zheng Yang, representing Stingray, splashed his way to four golds, a silver and one bronze, and set a state record and three championship records. He was named as the overall champion in the boys’ section.
Pade Supersharkz emerged the overall champions after amassing 132 golds, 122 silvers and 96 bronze medals. Second and third were Stingray Swimming Club (41-35-40) and Kelab Shah Alam (24-14-23), respectively.
The championships also saw several former internationals debut as coaches and volunteers.
May Tan, who is also Sasa assistant secretary, was the announcer, while Marilyn Chua was helping with the scoreboard and Alvin Chia and Mark Chua were there as coaches.
Jin Kooi said the selection committee would meet soon to finalise the team for the National Age Group meet and other events.
“We also have plans to send some swimmers to meets in the Southeast Asian region to gain international exposure. This year is an important year as we hope to see some of our swimmers qualify for the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games,’’ said Jin Kooi.