Malaysia seems to have all of the needed elements for a successful swimming program. There’s water everywhere, over 2,800 miles of coastline. The country is relatively wealthy, especially in pockets of its major city Kuala Lampur. It has 28 million citizens, and has hosted major sporting events like the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
Yet, their swimming program has historically not been very strong. They’ve produced great divers, yes, but not much in the way of true, senior-level, world-class swimming. The best known among the global audience is probably Yi Ting Siow – who swam at the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Summer Olympics and is a former SEC breaststroke champion.
That could all be changing, though, as this week they won the nation’s first ever gold medal in swimming at the Asian Youth Games – a multisport event.
Lim Ching Hwang won the boys’ 200 free, in one of the more impressive times we’ve seen this week, posting a 1:50.81 at 17 years old. That beat Singapore’s Zheng Wen Quah for the gold medal (1:52.91).
Hwang has been about four-tenths of a second faster this year, and has to drop another second-or-so to break the Malaysian National Record in the event.
Also at this meet is Singapore’s Darren Lim. This is the swimmer who earlier this summer was a 22.7 in the 50 free long course at just 14 years old. He wasn’t nearly that good in the 50 free at this meet through the semi-finals, but still took the top seed in 23.42 ahead of Kyrgyzstan’s Stanislav Karnaukhov in 23.87 to win the 2nd semi. Lim has a few more weeks at 14: he turns 15 on October 12th.
Hwang won the other semi-final, and is the second seed headed into Thursday’s final, with a 23.62.
The meet is for 14-17 year olds, meaning that nobody gets to compete at more than one Games.
Full results for the meet, which runs through Friday, August 23rd, can be seen here.