Kotas stars make waves at nationalsAssociation swimmers break four age group records


OUTSTANDING: Welson and Angela (front, first and second right) celebrate their achievements with KOTAS state teammates, head coach Ren Xiao Shun (right, back row) and Ho (left). — Photo courtesy of Gerald Lee

KUCHING: Kota Samarahan Amateur Swimming Association (Kotas) enjoyed a highly successful outing at the recently concluded 48th Malaysian National Age Group Swimming Championships by bringing back over half of Sarawak’s gold medals.

Eleven Kotas swimmers represented the state at the meet held at the National Aquatic Centre, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur from April 6 to 8 and they captured a total of 12 gold, eight silver and eight bronze medals.

The 35-member Sarawak team which won 23 gold medals was placed fourth overall after Hong Kong, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

Among the outstanding performers in the respective
Boys U-14 and Girls U-14 categories were Kotas swimmers Welson Sim who broke three national records and Angela Chieng who broke one.

Welson, a rising star in the pool, captured the attention of the Malaysian swimming fraternity when he smashed fellow Sarawakian Daniel Bego’s 2004 record of 1:58.24 in the 200m freestyle by clocking an impressive new time of1:57.84.

Proving his prowess in the middle and longer distances, Welson also established a new national mark of 4:13.31 in the 400m freestyle, erasing teammate Vernon Lee’s 2010 time of 4:15.00.

His third national record came in the 50m backstroke where he chipped 0.33s off Kuala Lumpur swimmer Ian James Barr’s three-year-old record of 28.86.

“Looking at the illustrious swimmers whose records he has broken – Daniel, Vernon and Ian – all of whom have gone on to be powerhouses in the pool, we can only see a very positive future for Welson,” said state Elite Centre coach Jeffrey Ho.

Fifteen year-old Welson also clinched the gold in the gruelling 1500m freestyle in 16:41.63, making him among the nation’s top three distance swimmers.

His other first places were in the 100m freestyle (53.88), 100m backstroke (1:01.63) and as a member of the Sarawak 4x100m medley relay team.

He added three bronze medals in the 50m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 4x100m freestyle relay for a personal tally of 11 medals which gave him the title of Best Boy swimmer for his age category.

Meanwhile, Angela Chieng fought off a strong challenge from the invited Hong Kong swimmers to bag four gold, three silver and three bronze medals and claimed the trophy for the Best Girl in the same age division.

Angela’s biggest triumph came in the 800m freestyle where she clocked 9:30.77 to beat the old national record of 9:35.92 set in 2010 by Chris Tan of Sabah.

She also finished first in the 400m freestyle (4:33.67), 400m individual medley (5:12.96) and her pet 200m butterfly event where she swam what is presently the fastest time in the country (2:21.53).

Her three silver medals were from the 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 4x100m freestyle while her three bronze medals came in the 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay.

“She has great talent and determination and is renowned for her stamina over longer distances,” said Ho, who is also assistant coach of Kotas.

Other national age-group medal winners from Kotas were Sukma-bound swimmer and Angela’s sister, 17-year old Annie Chieng, who earned a bronze for the 800m freestyle and 13-year old Anson Go with one gold (4x100m medley relay) and one bronze (4x100m freestyle relay).

In the youngest age category contested, the U-10, Kotas bagged five silver medals through Ryan Yii (100m breaststroke and 4x100m freestyle relay), Adrian Chua (50m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay) and Lim Hong Yang (4x100m freestyle relay).

“We were delighted to see our younger swimmers rise to the occasion on the national stage and to achieve many new personal best times. Being only in our third year, Kotas is a relatively new association, but these results augurs well for the future of the club and the state,” Ho added.