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Teong Tzen Wei – it’s redemption time for the Singapore swimmer

“No technology after sun sets. Monk mode time. No social media. Seeya at worlds.”

Singapore swimmer Teong Tzen Wei, who will take part in his first race at the 2023 Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia on Sunday (7 May), posted this mantra on Instagram in October during a year that proved a huge learning curve for the 25-year-old sprint specialist.

Already a three-time SEA Games medallist by the start of 2022, Teong headed into the year with a third Games on the horizon, both long- and short-course World Championships, and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

In May, at the delayed SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, Teong claimed gold in the 50m freestyle in a new Games- and Singaporean-record time of 21.93s becoming the first Southeast Asian man to go under 22 seconds in the discipline.

Not only that, but the time was also under the 2024 Olympic qualification mark, which Teong will need to repeat at accepted World Swimming events between 1 March 2023 to 23 June 2024 to qualify for Paris 2024 (provided the maximum quota per event for their National Olympic Committee has not been exceeded).

In the 50m butterfly final, Teong secured another Games Record (23.04s) to claim his fourth gold at the Southeast Asian Games.

A month later, Teong was the only Asian to make it to the 50m butterfly final at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, and four weeks after that, Keong won silver in the same discipline at the England-hosted Commonwealth Games, only losing out to the home nation’s Ben Proud, the 2017 world champion.

Teong Tzen Wei learns from experience

Teong was flying and had the world short-course championships in December to wrap up the year. However, by September, Teong had accepted a one-month suspension from Sports Singapore, along with two other swimmers from his nation – Joseph Schooling and Amanda Lim – after admitting to consuming “controlled drugs” while overseas.

“This is something I deeply regret doing and as an elite athlete, I should have known better,” said Teong in a statement issued by the Singapore Swimming Association.” I accept the sanctions given to me and… I will strive to be a better version of myself and come back from this stronger.”

Using the experience as fuel to his fire, the Instagram mantra reveals a renewed focus on eating cleanly, sleeping well and meditation, alongside his training prior to the 2022 SEA Games.

In December, Teong replicated his long-course feat from earlier in the year, when he made the final of the 50m butterfly world short-course final, this time securing an Asian record of 22.01s and just missing out on a medal in fourth.

Teong Tzen Wei in 2023

First up in 2023 for the region’s fastest swimmer will be retaining his 50-metre free and butterfly titles, adding to the four SEA Games gold medals and one silver he has secured in three previous editions.

Breaking into the world medals after coming so close in 2022 will be a key focus at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan from 14-30 July 2023, before the delayed Asian Games take place in Hangzhou, People’s Republic of China from 23 September to 8 October 2023.

By year’s end, Teong will hope to have qualified for Paris 2024 and continue his upward trajectory in his chosen sport, learning valuable lessons along the way.

  • Swimming at Southeast Asian Games 2023 takes place from Saturday 6 May to Thursday 11 May.

Teong Tzen Wei’s schedule at Southeast Asian Games 2023

(Times are local – ICT)

  • Men’s 4 x 100m Medley
  • Men’s 50m Butterfly
  • Men’s 100m Butterfly
  • Men’s 50m Freestyle

Sunday 7 May
09:00 50m Freestyle M Heats
18:00 50m Freestyle M Final

Monday 8 May
18:00 100m 4 x 100m Medley M Final

Tuesday 9 May
09:00 100m Butterfly M Heats
18:00 100m Butterfly M Final

Wednesday 10 May
09:00 50m Butterfly M Heats
18:00 50m Butterfly M Final

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