Vietnamese swimmer Anh Vien breaks two records at SEA Games


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Nguyen Thi Anh Vien. Photo: Kha Hoa Nguyen Thi Anh Vien. Photo: Kha Hoa


Vietnamese swimming sensation Nguyen Thi Anh Vien broke two Southeast Asian Games records in less than an hour on Saturday to make the perfect start in her bid to win a record 11 gold medals.
The 18-year-old left her rivals dead in the water as she cruised to victory in the 800 metres freestyle then dived back in the pool and won the 400m individual medley, two of the most gruelling events in swimming.
Few swimmers would even consider tackling both events back-to-back but it is nothing compared to what Anh Vien has planned for the next five days at Singapore's new Aquatic Centre.
With Vietnam not able to enter a team in the women's relays events, the Florida-based teenager has set her sights on winning 11 events on her own.
"I know I can do this," she said.
Anh Vien won six medals, including three gold, at the last SEA Games two years ago but announced her arrival on the world stage when she won the girl's 200 individual medley final at last year's Youth Olympics in China.
She followed that up by finishing third in the 400m individual medley at the Asian Games, behind China's Olympic champion and world record holder Ye Shiwen.
A child prodigy who holds the Vietnamese national records in 14 different events, Anh Vien and her coach Dang Anh Tuan moved to Florida four years ago to train and race against the best young swimmers in the United States.
Tuan said Anh Vien has alreay been offered a scholarship at the University of Arizona but was deferring for a year so she can remain in Florida and focus on the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Although she set SEA Games records in both events on Saturday her times were below her best because she is still in heavy training for this year's world championships in Russia, where she will reduce her schedule to "three or four events".
"I think I can do better (times)," she said.
Tuan said he had deliberately chosen a heavy workload for Anh Vien at the SEA Games but said the world championships would provide a better measure of her standing.
"We hope she can make the final at the world championships," he said. "And if you make the final, nobody knows what will happen then."
Vietnam won a third gold medal in SEA Games swimming on Saturday when Hoang Quy Phuoc touched out Singapore's Quah Zheng Wen in the men's 200m freestyle final.
Like Anh Vien, Quah has signed up for a massive programme, a total of 12 events with relays, and was back in the pool less than an hour after his first race to win the 100m backstroke.
"It's definitely a challenge but I'm pretty sure I can manage," he said.

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