S’pore para swimmer Sophie Soon defies injury to rewrite national record twice

Despite nursing a nagging elbow injury since August, Soon turned in a good day of work by lowering her 50m freestyle S12 national record twice.

Su Thet Hnin San

Su Thet Hnin San

The Straits Times


Sophie Soon competes in the women's 50m freestyle multi-class final. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

May 2, 2023

SINGAPORE – Despite nursing a nagging elbow injury since August, Sophie Soon turned in a good day of work by lowering her 50m freestyle S12 national record twice in the multi-class event at the Citi Para Swimming World Series Singapore on Monday.

At the OCBC Aquatic Centre, the 25-year-old Singaporean first lowered the mark with a 33.66-second swim in the heats before touching home in 32.74sec in the B final to finish 14th with 545 points.

In multi-class para swimming events, the athletes are ranked by points which are determined by their timings relative to the world record for their impairment classification.

Soon, who is visually impaired, said the feat was heartening, considering she is yet to fully recover from the persistent elbow tendon injury which she suffered during training last August.

The injury has impacted her training, which needed the support of a medical team and also tweaks to her schedule depending on her condition each day.

“I’m very happy. It was a pretty significant personal best, something I’m very proud of and my coach is also happy with it as well,” she said of her record time, which shaved almost 1½ seconds off her previous S12 national mark of 34.21sec set in Berlin in April 2022.

The timing on the final day of the three-day competition came as a boost for Soon, who also set a national record in the 100m freestyle multi-class heats on Saturday.

“This is a good step in the right direction towards the Para Swimming World Championships and Paris 2024 Paralympics,” she said.

“My performance has been pretty good, pretty on par with how I’ve been expected to perform at this point. Overall, I’m quite happy with how everything turned out.”

Another swimmer coming back from an injury is Yip Pin Xiu, who broke her left wrist in September and had her training disrupted for six weeks.

Yip, who finished fourth in the 100m backstroke with 2min 17.14sec and 835 points, was pleased to better her time of 2:17.15 from the heats.

“I’m quite pleased that I’m kind of getting back into the hang of racing… I think at this point in time we’re still looking at a lot of small marginal gains. This is one that I think we can be pretty happy about and hopefully try to carry it forward as well,” said Yip, who holds the 100m backstroke world mark of 2:07.09 set in 2016.

Yip Pin Xiu competes in the women’s 100m backstroke multi-class final. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Yip, who set a world record in the 200m freestyle on Saturday, said her main focus now is July’s world championships in Manchester, before pushing for the Paris Games.

She added: For me, (the world championships is) pretty much the biggest meet of the year. And a good place to reflect and evaluate the training programme with the results in Manchester, towards Paris.”

Darren Chan broke his own S14 national record in the men’s 100m butterfly multi-class final. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Also on Monday, Singapore’s Darren Chan broke his own S14 national record of 1:06.86 with an 1:03.19 effort in the 100m butterfly multi-class final to finish 12th on 785 points.

That was Singapore’s 12th national record at the meet, where the hosts bagged one gold and one silver through Yip, and another silver from Toh Wei Soong.

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