Yi Ting demolished the field to deliver the first swimming gold for the country in 2:14.57, smashing the 10-year-old mark of 2:17.17 set by Joselin Yeo of Singapore.
The gold medal was never in doubt after Tao Li of Singapore, the Olympic finalist in the 100m butterfly, withdrew to concentrate on the 200m backstroke.
But it was the margin of victory that left its mark on the crowd.
Yi Ting was more than one body length away after the breaststroke lap and she took down her national record of 2:16.92 set at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne as well.
Thailand’s J. Natthanan of Thailand took silver in 2:18.98 while Koh Ting Ting of Singapore had the bronze in 2:20.71.
A gushing Yi Ting was delighted with her performance, saying she never expected to better the Games record by nearly three seconds.
“It’s been a while since I swam close to my best form,” said Yi Ting, who is studying at the University of Arkansas in the United States.
“I swam 2:17 this year but I was still upset. This is amazing and just awesome to drop a lot of time.
“It has been one of my goals to win this race but I do not want to put too much pressure as I guess I always swim better when I am relaxed. I was just racing hard ... that’s all and I did not expect to break the record.”
Yi Ting has a chance to make it a double on her birthday today when she swims in the 100m breaststroke.
Two more national records sank as Malaysia ended the opening day’s programme with two bronze medals as well.
The men’s 4x200m freestyle squad of Kevin Lim, Kevin Yeap, Foo Jian Beng and Daniel Bego clocked 7:36.89 to erase the previous national mark of 7:40.88 achieved by Elvin Chia, Lim Keng Liat, Die Ung Manggang and Wan Azlan Abdullah at the 1999 Brunei SEA Games.
The women’s 4x200m freestyle team of Khoo Cai Lin, Lai Wei Li, Hii Siew Siew and Yi Ying bagged the other bronze medal in 8:29.12.
Chui Lai Kwan set a new national record of 57.59 to better the time of 58.05 set by Leung Chii Lin last year but it was only good for seventh place.
Singapore swimmers stamped their mark by winning five of the seven gold medals at stake last night.