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Brunei junior swimmers make a splash in national meet return

By Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam’s junior swimmers marked their long-awaited return to the local competitive scene following the opening day of the 29th Brunei Age Group Swimming Championships at the Swimming Pool of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex on Friday.

Organised by the Brunei Amateur Swimming Association (BASA), the meet officially marked the resumption of sport competitions organised physically in the Sultanate since the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic last August.

Fritz Gabrielle Mendoza of the LifeSkill Swim School and Hayley Wong of the Mabohai Swimming Club were among the biggest winners in the opening day.

Fritz Gabrielle enjoyed a clean sweep of victories in the 100m freestyle, 200m breaststroke, 50m butterfly and 200m Individual Medley (IM) events in the Boys six-13 years’ age group, while Hayley stormed to glory in the 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly events.

Hayley, regarded as one of the bright prospects in the country, also set a new championship record with a time of 1:02.56s in the 100m freestyle event, eclipsing the time of 1:03.15s set by Leilani Stowers from the Hammerhead Swimming Club in April last year.

Swimmers in action at the competition. PHOTO: FADHIL YUNUS

The 14-year-old continued her pursuit of achieving new records after setting an Open record with a time of 30.70s in the 50m butterfly event, surpassing a 12-year record set by Amanda Liew who posted a time of 31.18s in June 2010.

Joel Ling from Hammerhead Swimming Club put himself in contention as the best individual swimmer in the Boys 16-18 years’ age group after claiming top spot in the 100m freestyle and the 200m IM events.

The 16-year-old also broke the Open record after posting a time of 2:15.78s in the 200IM event, easily lowering the mark set by Muhammad Isa Ahmad whose record previously stood at 2:17.86s since 2019 during the 8th Brunei Open.

His national teammate Zeke Chan from the Mabohai Swimming Club enjoyed a successful return in the pool after winning the 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly events.

Brunei’s national swimmer and FINA Scholarship recipient Nur Haziq Samil from Brunei Speed breezed through the 100m freestyle event after clocking a time of 56.46s.

The competition also witnessed the emergence of Sharmeen Md Mharvin from the Brunei Speed Swimming Club after dominating the Girls six-13 years’ category, with triumphs in the 100m freestyle and the 50m butterfly events.