20 July 17 The Straits Times by LESTER WONG
Singapore's synchronised swimmers may have finished closer to the bottom than the top. But they can claim bragging rights ahead of next month's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur after outperforming their Malaysian rivals across four events at the Fina World Championships.
Debbie Soh fired the first psychological salvo last Friday in Budapest, where she finished 20th out of 30 swimmers in the women's solo technical with a score of 72.9689.
Malaysia's Gan Hua Wei was 24th with a score of 71.3383.
On that same day, Soh and Miya Yong recorded a score of 74.7393 to their Malaysian rivals' 73.1753 in the women's duet technical to finish 28th out of 40 pairs - three spots above the Malaysians.
The duo - part of the team who won gold at the last SEA Games - then combined for a 76.0000 in the duet free on Tuesday.
They finished 28th out of 43 pairs with the highest score by a Singaporean pair at the world championships. The performance was good enough to again put them ahead of Malaysia, who scored 73.7333 to settle for 32nd position.
The Philippines also took part in the women's duet free and duet technical events, finishing bottom in both.
Soh completed the sweep when she scored 75.6000 in the women's solo free to finish 21st out of 32 competitors. Malaysia's Lee Yhing Huey (72.2667) finished 27th.
"The results bode well for the upcoming SEA Games. We have been working on the new solo and duet routines for the past year, and I am delighted at the scores that we got," said Philip Lee, the Singapore Swimming Association's vice-president (synchronised swimming).
"The coaches and athletes will continue to fine-tune all the routines up till the SEA Games."