KUALA LUMPUR: After splashing the pools with national records and personal bests last year, upcoming swimmer Khiew Hoe Yean is looking forward to 2022 with the aim of excelling in both sports and studies.

Apart from training hard for numerous major tournaments lined up this year, Hoe Yean, who will turn 20 in September, is also set to enroll in a Bachelor of Computer Science programme at UCSI University.

Despite having to juggle between lecture halls and the pool, the 200m backstroke and 800m freestyle event national record holder wants to continue his record-breaking feat by improving his timings, with the Paris 2024 Olympics being his ultimate target.

“I will continue my hard work in the pool to achieve better results this year. I would like to improve my timing to break my own personal bests.

“Paris 2024 is one of my biggest goals since it is a world-class meet that everyone knows and recognise. So I hope that I can really do well in competitions that are coming up in preparing myself for the challenge,” he told Bernama.

Commenting on the major regional and world-stage championships awaiting him this year, including the SEA Games, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, Hoe Yean, who bagged two silver medals at the recent US Open, said he’s hoping to make his mark, although anticipating a tough challenge from experienced swimmers from around the region.

“Well, I would say those are huge meets. I will do my best and see what happens next because there are a lot of good competitors that train as hard as I do, so I will not underestimate anyone,” he said.

Hoe Yean started to gain attention after clinching eight gold medals at the Malaysia Invitational Age Group Swimming Championships in March 2020, before making headlines again at the 63rd Malaysia Open in June last year, despite months of inaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He broke the 23-year-old 200m backstroke national record by clocking 2:00.80s to erase Alex Lim Keng Liat’s previous mark of 2:00.94s, and bettered the 800m freestyle record after clocking in 8:06.00s to erase Olympian Welson Sim’s 8:09.77s mark.

“I am quite satisfied with my achievements in 2021 because I did overcome the hardest situation which is the MCO (Movement Control Order) that forced us away from the pool. I would like to thank my coach, Chris Martin, as well as my family and friends who supported me all the time,” he added. - Bernama