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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Swimmers set top times

Swimmers set top times

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Cambodia’s Hem Thon Vitiny set a national short-course record in the women’s 50m freestyle in Istanbul on Saturday. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

A TRIO of Cambodian swimmers returned home yesterday from the 11th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Istanbul, having failed to progress from their heats but having set national records for short-course events.

National coach Hem Kiry was especially pleased with the performances of his male squad members, Maximov Chamraen Youri and Hem Thon Ponloeu, saying their times showed they had improved significantly over the past few months.

Chamraen, 17. came 114th out of 155 heat finishers in the men’s 50-metre freestyle competition with a time of 25.85 seconds.

Ponloeu, 22, ranked 125th after swimming the distance in 26.22 seconds.

Chamraen smashed his previous best of 27.03, set during the 2010 World Championships (25m) in Dubai and, with an absence of other official short- course times held by the Khmer Amateur Swimming Federation, he assumes the national record.

Ponloeu obtained a national record of his own, however, after competing in the men’s 50m breaststroke, setting a time of 31.83 seconds to place 78th out of 106. “He beat a lot of people,” coach Kiry said of his younger brother.

Hem Thon Vitiny, the only female Cambodian representative, competed in the women’s 50m freestyle event on Saturday.  

Her race time of 30.02 seconds, which put her 88th out of 108, was described as “not a bad one” by her coach and uncle Kiry, who believed the 19-year-old may have been adversely affected by the cold weather in Turkey. Vitiny shaved more than a second and a half off the time she swam in Dubai two years ago.

Kiry said he was very satisfied with the standard of Cambodian swimming and was looking forward to the next big event, the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar, in 12 months’ time.

He bemoaned the lack of other quality rivals in the Kingdom, however.

“My swimmers need to get more experience,” Kiry said. “[They] need someone to challenge [them], to chase them to get better.”

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