Daniel's all set to make SEA Games return

PETALING JAYA: Swimmer Daniel Bego underlined his intentions ahead of his return to the SEA Games scene in Myanmar next month with a strong performance in the FINA Swimming World Cup short course meet in Singapore.

The 24-year-old, who missed the last SEA Games in Indonesia to recover from a shoulder operation, managed to qualify for the 400m freestyle final en route to finishing sixth in 3:50.87. 50m backstroke short course world record holder Robert Hurley of Australia won the event in 3:38.68.

Daniel was about five seconds slower in Wednesday morning’s heat and narrowly beat compatriot Vernon Lee (3:55.84) to sneak into the final as the eighth and last qualifier on 3:55.52.

The Sarawakian is best remembered for his five gold medal splash at the Laos SEA Games in 2009, winning the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, and 100m and 200m butterfly. Four of the victories came along with SEA Games records.

Daniel will surely be out to make up for lost time after undergoing two shoulder surgeries to correct a long-standing bone spur problem that prevented him from defending his titles at the last SEA Games.

He only returned to competitive action early this year after a long period of rehabilitation and the first sign of improvement was when he bagged his first gold medal in the 100m butterfly at the Malaysian Open in May.

He then continued his momentum at the Kazan Universiade, clocking a good time of 50.86 in the 100m freestyle to qualify for SEA Games.

The Myanmar SEA Games qualifying mark is based on the silver medal time from the previous edition in Palembang (50.92) and it was refreshing to see Daniel posting his season best in Kazan.

Daniel was not the only national swimmer to impress on the first day as Christina Loh, Khoo Cai Lin and Yap See Tuan also posted top eight finishes, too.

Christina, who is entrusted with replacing Siow Yi Ting as breaststroke queen of the region, touched the wall at 1:08.94 to settle for a strong fifth in the women’s 100m breaststroke, five seconds behind winner Alia Atkinson of Jamaica (1:03.48).

See Tuan (2:14.53) and Cai Lin (8:42.73) finished seventh respectively in the men’s 200m breaststroke and women’s 800m freestyle.

National coach Paul Birmingham wants the swimmers to participate in some races to build up their competitive spirit ahead of the Myanmar SEA Games where they will renew their rivalry with regional counterparts.

Short course timings on a 25m pool are generally faster than those set on long course as the swimmers get extra speed when they push off the wall.

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