#14-year-old Thitirat Charoensup crowned fastest female
Aflah Fadlan Prawira lived up to his billing as the region’s top open water swimmer after the Indonesian was crowned overall champion of the 1st SEA Open Water Swimming Championships 2023 (SEAOWSC) on Thursday.
Aflah won the inaugural championships 5km race in less than an hour at the Putrajaya Lake, clocking 55:21.4 seconds as he coasted to victory almost a whole minute faster than his closest competitor.
The 25-year-old later admitted winning at the Putrajaya Lake was the ideal homecoming, six years after he finished third behind Malaysia’s Kevin Yeap who won gold at the 2017 SEA Games open water swimming.
“Back in 2017, I finished behind Malaysia’s open water home legend. I am glad to become champion this time at this wonderful venue. I enjoy competing here. The race course was exceptional.
“The water was calm, there were no waves or animals. It’s a good open water course, and more importantly a great initiative for the sport. You need experience in events like this, and I’m happy to finish as champion,” he said.
Aflah has competed at the highest level when he featured at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and is now targeting to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics in open water swimming.
Thailand’s Thitirat Charoensup was crowned overall female champion in the 5km category with a time of 1:00:57.4 seconds, ahead of Indonesian rival Adinda Larasati Dewi Kirana.
The 14-year-old was delighted to finish first in her maiden international meet, after dominating domestic junior events back home.
Thiritat was neck and neck with Adinda for four kilometres of the race, but found the cutting edge to put a 16.4 seconds gap from the Indonesian for the win.
“This is a huge motivation for me to finish first in my first overseas meet. My next aim is to represent Thailand at the 2023 SEA Games in the pool event,” she said.
Lim Kai Yi finished as the top Malaysian male in eighth place with a time of 59:04.6 seconds, while Magdalene Lau finished as the top Malaysian female in fifth with a time of 1:03:48.4 seconds.
Kai Yi was happy with his finish having tested himself in a lake for the first time.
“I am gunning to qualify for the SEA Games, and I think this result serves as a good start for me,” he said.
Magdalene also put her skills in the lake for the first time and came away satisfied.
“Swimming in a lake is different compared to the pool or the sea. To get a clear sighting of the race can be challenging, but I am happy I rose to the test to finish as the fastest Malaysian,” she said.
The SEAOWSC will commence with the 10km race on Friday and the team relay event on Saturday.
The SEAOWSC is sanctioned by the SEA Swimming Federation, hosted and organized by MAS.