If Diocesan Girls' School (DGS) win their 27th straight championship in the Inter-School Swimming Competition finals, they'll be able to give credit to their training. It seems as if they spent every free moment in the pool.
In truth, many swimmers have sacrificed their summer holidays and lunch periods to prepare for the finals, which begin today at Kowloon Park Swimming Pool. But DGS' competitors practise four times a week. They have morning sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and lunch training on Mondays and Wednesdays.
"We focus on skills, attitude and team-building so that our swimmers will be both physically and psychologically prepared for the finals," said team co-captain Cheryl Yuen, 16.
Its brother school, Diocesan Boys' School (DBS), does three sessions a week during lunch. The team are hoping to win their 22nd straight championship.
If the competition were about who trains the most, then Heep Yunn School would be the champions. They spend every single lunch period training. Captain Kelly Ma says the practice sessions "help build teamwork and friendships".
But the team are not aiming for first place, Kelly adds. "We just hope that everyone can try their best and beat their personal bests."
Good Hope School are also not aiming for the championship, despite being in the finals. "The most important thing is for the swimmers to perform their best and leave the pool with no regrets," said team captain Joey Ching, 17. "Though a medal in the relay would be nice."
For La Salle College, getting to train together is already a kind of a dream. "Most of our swimmers train in their own clubs, and we all have our own extracurricular activities, so we can just barely squeeze in some time to train together," says captain Kenny Mo, 17. "[The team practices] are important to build team spirit and for relay events, which need cooperation between teammates."
Even so, Kenny remains optimistic about the team's chances. "For B and C grades, our aim is to be the champions, and although our A Grade team has always been our weakest, we have some excellent swimmers this year, so we can win A Grade," he says.
St Joseph's College swimmer Gary Sin wasn't even born when his team last won the championship, in 1992, before DBS began their winning streak.
"We don't want our supporters to feel disappointed," said Gary, 17, whose team trained during the summer holidays. "No matter how hard the training is, we never stop. That's the SJC spirit."