It takes raw talent, perseverance, and a lot of practice to be considered excellent at a sport. Samy Morton excels at two – swimming and indoor rowing.
The 17-year-old Hong Kong International School (HKIS) student learned to swim when she was two, and has been doing it competitively since she was 12. The freestyle swimmer has, since her competitive debut, become one of the strongest in the city. Last year, she swam at the Fina Swimming World Cup – an international competition organised by the International Swimming Federation.
“That was a dream come true for me,” Samy recalled. “I swam in the same heat as Swedish swimmer Sarah Sjostrom, who holds six world records. Sitting next to her, walking out beside her to the blocks, and just knowing that I managed to get myself to a level where I was able to compete in the same heat as Sjostrom was incredible.”
Samy finished the 50m freestyle with a time that qualifies her for the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina later this year, but she will not be representing Hong Kong because she doesn’t have a Hong Kong passport. The HKIS student said she wants to eventually swim internationally for her native country, Mexico.
Her efforts at last year’s World Cup have netted her a scholarship to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the US. But while she is obviously a natural talent, this reward came as a result of hard work and a whole lot of training.
“I have eight or nine sessions in the pool every week. Six of those sessions are two hours long, and the others are 90 minutes long,” she said. “On top of that, I have three land training sessions, where I’m in the gym pumping iron and on the bike.”
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This intensive training in, and out of, the water has given her the physique and stamina needed to excel in rowing, too. Samy competed in the Junior U18 Girl’s Individual 2,000m at the Hong Kong Indoor Rowing Championships that were held earlier this year.
“One of my swim coaches signed me up for the championships, and I broke the record by 18 seconds,” she said, explaining the decision to take part in the event. She now has additional rowing training sessions a week on top of her swimming.
When asked which sport she thinks she will focus on in the future, Samy told us she wasn’t quite sure, but was said that “for now”, she’s leaning towards swimming because she considers it her main sport.
“However, some universities have expressed interest in me as a rower,” she added. “I know I’ve got a big decision to make.”
Still, no matter whether she decides to compete in or on top of the water, Samy said she’ll be happy because she loves both sports. It helps that they have a lot in common, she said, and she can apply her knowledge and experience to both.
“They are insanely tough sports, both from a mental and physical standpoint,” she said. “At times it can feel really discouraging, like you won’t ever be good enough, but as long as you remember to keep going and to stay positive, everything works out.”