Yet, for all their valiant efforts, it only earned them the silver medal behind a Joseph Schooling-powered Singapore team, who retained their title just slightly ahead on 7:26.67 at the Wunna Theikdi Aquatic Centre on Thursday night.
The Malaysian quartet clocked 7:27.32 to join Singapore in dipping under the SEA Games mark of 7:30.73 which the Singaporeans set in Palembang two years ago.
United States-based star Schooling jumped off the blocks and quickly established a healthy lead over Ching Hwang.
It looked like gold was out of Malaysia’s reach for Malaysia by the time Kevin completed the second leg and Daniel took over.
But Malaysia’s never-say-die spirit prevailed as Daniel chased down Singapore’s Pang Sheng Jun.
Gold was in sight as Daniel went level with his Singaporean rival before passing it to SEA Games debutant Welson.
The youngster went ahead after the first 100m but was eventually overtaken in the final lap by Quah Zheng Wen, who had earlier won the 400m individual medley gold.
Although Singapore celebrated in the end, at least Malaysia enjoyed the consolation of earning the first medal from the pool – and a new national record, the third set this year.
Daniel will be highly comforted by his performance here as he looks to reclaim his 100m freestyle title tonight, after missing out on the action in Indonesia due to shoulder injuries.
“I am in my best form. I’ve never felt so good like this for some time. It’s all about chasing down the favourites at this point and I’m comfortable with this,” said the Sarawakian, who bagged five gold medals in his last SEA Games appearance in Laos in 2009.
Kevin said that they gave their best against Singapore and there was no reason to feel disappointed.
“We know the national record will fall. We wanted to go for gold but we know it will be hard to beat the Singaporeans. We will come back stronger,” said Kevin, who is defending his 400m freestyle title on Saturday.