Following in the footsteps of countryman Joseph Schooling who competes for the Texas Longhorns, Singaporean swimmer Quah Zheng Wen is set to join the ranks of the United States’ NCAA collegiate swimming system. Zheng Wen is slated to join the swimming roster at the University of California, Berkeley, to swim under the direction of Head Coach Dave Durden.
Zheng Wen is an Asian swimming superstar, having earned 12 medals at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games (SEA), the most of any athlete at the biennial event. The 20-year-old raced in 3 events at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing 22nd in the 100m backstroke, 15th in the 100m butterfly and 10th in the 200m butterfly.
Post-Games, there were rumors Zheng Wen would join former Singaporean National Head Coach Sergio Lopez, who is now on staff at Auburn University, but Cal is confirmed as the destination. According to The Strait Times, Zheng Wen is just waiting on NCAA clearance in order to compete, but he is set to depart for Cal this week. One potential complication is the fact that he signed an endorsement deal last year with Liberty Insurance, something that may negate his NCAA eligibility.
Says Zheng Wen, “I expect to hear back from the NCAA pretty soon … I am pretty hopeful and it’s looking pretty positive.”
“If I’m not eligible this year, I will take part (in NCAA championships) next year. One option (if he is ruled ineligible) if I want to continue schooling there is maybe train as a professional … but I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there.”
As for seeing one of his protege’s leave Singapore’s National Training Center program, current Singaporean Head Coach Gary Tan says, “I’m very proud of Zheng Wen’s achievements and decision to pursue his dream in the US.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for any student-athlete to not only be able to study in one of the best universities but also to be able to train with a world-class team.
“I’m confident that if he continues to train hard, whether at home or abroad, he’ll be in a great position to achieve his dreams. I wish him the very best and he will always have a home with the National Training Centre.”
As with Schooling, Zheng Wen was granted mandatory military service duty deferment, as his nation’s Ministry of Defense cites his Tokyo 2020 Olympic preparation as an ‘extraordinary circumstance.’
Quah Zheng Wen‘s Personal Best Times:
Of note, all of his converted times would have finaled at the 2016 NCAA Championships.