Hong Kong’s record-breaking Olympic swimmer Siobhan Haughey is targeting a place in the finals as she takes part in the World Aquatics Championships this week.
The teenager made history at Rio 2016 as she became the first Hong Kong swimmer ever to reach an Olympic semi-final, and after another impressive season in the elite US college circuit with the University of Michigan, the 19-year-old is hoping to go one better at the Worlds, as the swimming programme starts on Sunday in Budapest.
“The Olympics definitely gave me a lot of confidence because I know how fast I can go,” she said. “However, I was a bit burned out from last year as I didn’t really have a break after college season and after the Olympics.
“The team culture and my teammates’ support really helped me move on from Rio. Since then I’ve been putting in the hard work, and had some really good practices and I’m very excited about the Worlds.”
Haughey helped her university win back-to-back Big Ten championships this season, the first time the university had done so in almost 20 years. She was named a two-time NCAA All-American, one of the top honours in US college sport.
A gold medallist at the junior world championships in 2013, she will compete in 100m and 200m free and relays at the Worlds, and is seen as a dark horse to reach the 200m final - though she will likely have to improve on her own Hong Kong record of one minute, 56.91 seconds set in Rio. Her first competition - 200m free - will start on July 25 and another race of 200m free will start on July 27.
“There are definitely goals that I want to achieve at Worlds [but] I just want to swim my own race, focus on the details that I have been working on throughout the year and enjoy the meet,” she said.
“Making the finals is a challenging but attainable goal if I try hard enough. That is what I am aiming for. And if I get into the finals, we shall see what happens.
“I don’t really have any main rivals in the 100 and 200 free, since they’re very popular events among swimmers ... [and there’s] always rising swimmers who swim the world’s top times.
“I can’t control how well everyone else is doing or how prepared they are. All I can do is to try to keep my head down, do the work, and put my hand on the wall before everyone else.”
Haughey won two silver medals in the 200m freestyle and the 200-metre individual medley at the Arena Pro Swim Series in the US last month. She also picked up a bronze in the 100m freestyle.