Asian Games: Kayla Sanchez makes 100m free final in record fashion

Philippines’ Kayla Sanchez competes in the heats of women’s 100m freestyle event during the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou in China’s eastern Zhejiang province on September 26, 2023. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)

HANGZHOU, China—Kayla Sanchez broke the national record and emerged fastest in her heat to earn a spot in the evening medal race of the women’s 100-meter freestyle on Tuesday in the 19th Asian Games.

Sanchez touched the wall first in 54.70 seconds at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Aquatic Arena, easily beating Japan’s Nagisa Ikemoto (55.02) and South Korea’s Soeun Jeong (56.33) in the second of four qualifying heats.

The 22-year-old Sanchez, who switched federations from Canada to the Philippines, wiped out the 55.71-second clocking of Remedy Rule established in the TYR Pro Swim Series in Des Moines, United States on March 5, 2020.

It was the third record-shattering feat by Sanchez on her third day in the pool after resetting the Philippine women’s 50m backstroke twice on Monday and helping the 4x100m freestyle relay team record a new national standard.

Kayla Sanchez competes in the women’s 50m backstroke at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.–ASIAN GAMES POOL PHOTO

Sanchez wiped out Teia Salvino’s national mark of 28.95 in the 2023 Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia in the 50m back with a 28.86 effort in the qualification heats before jacking it up to 28.66 in the finals where Sanchez wound up sixth.

The two-time Olympic medalist during her stint with the Canadian relay team in the Tokyo Summer Games will be pitted against Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey (54.27) and China’s Yang Junxuan (54.52) and Yujie Cheng (54.72) in the evening finale.

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Plucking a medal from the pool will end a 25-year wait for the Philippine swimming team or since Ryan Papa won a pair of bronzes in the men’s 100m and 200m backstroke during the 1998 Bangkok Asiad.

A gold or silver has even become more precious following William Wilson’s victory in the men’s 200m freestyle in 1982 New Delhi along with his silver in the 400m freestyle.

No Filipino swimmer has won the gold or silver in the Asiad since.

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