‘Open’ season for Welson
WELSON Sim will try his hand in open water swimming when he competes in the Asian Championships in Putrajaya on May 19-21.
The Olympian, however, is not shifting his focus from pool events as he is only using the open water swimming meet to prepare for the 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle events ahead of the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games on Aug 19-30.
“It is part of his training programme for pool events… a strategy to build his endurance especially for the 1,500m event,” said national coach Paul Birmingham yesterday.
“Welson is definitely not making open water swimming his main forte. We have other fulltime open water swimmers for the Sea Games.”
Former Sea Games medallist Kevin Yeap, Vernon Lee and Wong Jun Bin make up the men’s team for the competition.
Perth-based Heidi Gan will use the Sea Games course to get a feel of the venue.
Heidi is leaving no stone unturned in her bid for a second Sea Games gold medal.
The 28-year-old won both the 5,000m and 10,000m titles when the sport was contested for the first time in 2011 in Indonesia.
The previous two editions in Myanmar (2013) and Singapore (2015) did not host open water swimming.
On the 10,000m men’s and women’s events in the Sea Games, Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) secretary Mae Chen said Heidi will skip the World Championships in Budapest in July to focus on the biennial games.
“Heidi is ranked No 1 in this region and we hope she can contribute a gold for us again,” said Mae. “Each country can enter two male and two female swimmers in the Sea Games. Kevin Yeap and Heidi have already assured their spots.”
Kevin, who won the 400m freestyle title in the 2011 Sea Games, will compete in Sea Games open water swimming for the first time.
Angela Chieng will join Heidi for the women’s competition at the Asian meet. By Ajitpal Singh