KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — National swimming head coach Paul Birmingham has not ruled out the possibility of changes in the national squad for the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
Without revealing the full squad yet, the Australian coach said he would maintain a few medallists from the 2015 Singapore SEA Games but give opportunities to other potential medal contenders to prove their mettle in the biennial games.
“While we focus on preparations for the 2017 SEA Games, I will also focus on the programme for the 2018 Asian Games (in Indonesia) by developing some young swimmers... SEA Games is a major competition but it is just a step forward before we continue our programme for the Asian Games,” he told Bernama, recently.
“We will take a small group of swimmers to Victoria, Australia for a couple of competitions in January to keep them fit and stay competitive,” added Birmingham.
He pointed out that the success achieved by a few swimmers in managing to qualify for the Rio Olympics, last August, was due to the frequent participation in various competitions, both local and international.
For the record, two Malaysian swimmers — Welson Sim and Phee Jinq En — booked their ticket to the Rio Olympics in Brazil last August on merit but failed to made an impact in the games.
Birmingham said the national squad will take part in a few competitions including the 48th Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships (Seniors) in Singapore from March 14-19, 2017 and also the 60th Malaysia Open Swimming Championships in Shah Alam in the middle of next year as part of the preparations for the 2017 SEA Games.
The Malaysian swimming squad clinched three gold, four silver and four bronze medals at the 2015 Singapore SEA Games. — Bernama