Siobhan Haughey Building Legacy as Hong Kong’s Greatest Swimmer

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Siobhan Haughey has already set three Hong Kong records this summer. Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

Every time Siobhan Haughey touches the wall, she is making history for her country. At least it seems that way.

In the past four months, Haughey capped her career as one of the top swimmers in Michigan history, then qualified for the 2019 World Championships, the 2020 Olympics, become the first swimmer from Hong Kong to win a major international title and broke three national records — and her summer is just getting started.

Now, she is aiming for an international medal, beginning with the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

“I think I am just excited for this chapter of my life, being a professional swimmer,” Haughey told Swimming World. “I graduated and traveled the world a little bit. I love to race and love to travel. It makes me so much more excited, and when you are excited, you tend to do well. I am so excited to go to Korea and race so many fast swimmers. That puts me in a good mood, and when you are in a good mood, you train better.

“I think it is very special because there are not a lot of swimmers from Hong Kong who get to that level. Hopefully, I am motivating and inspiring young athletes, not just swimmers, and not just in Hong Kong, to pursue their dreams.”

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Siobhan Haughey; Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

It will be her third World Championships.

“I have a lot more experience. My first Worlds, I made the Olympics in the 200 IM, so that was very special to me,” she said. “I was the first person from Hong Kong ever to make the Olympic A cut. That was special. Then two years ago, I was fifth in the 200 free, which is still one of my greatest memories. I think this time, I am more confident and more experiences. We will see if I can improve on that fifth-place finish in the 200 free, and hopefully also final in the 100 free.”

Haughey has continued to improve, making those goals extremely realistic. She has gone head-to-head with the best in the world for a few years now, and each year she has moved up.

“I was talking to a friend of mine and she was like, ‘It is crazy to think that we associate you with like Katinka Hosszu and Katie Ledecky. You are right there with them.’ It is still weird to me that I used to look up to them and now I am racing them. But it is a great experience racing them. The more experience I get with them before Tokyo, the better. It is like a rehearsal for the Olympics.”

Her stellar year began with her senior season at Michigan, landing her on the Swimming World cover in January. Haughey had one of the strongest seasons of her career, earned multiple All-American finishes again and led the Wolverines to the third-place trophy, their highest finish in decades.

It moved to long course and the international level in April, when she flew to Hong Kong for the country’s Festival of Sport and qualified for Worlds and the Olympics during prelims. Her goal accomplished, she skipped the finals to spend a few hours with her family before flying right back to Michigan to accept the Big Ten Medal of Honor award — around the world in 80 hours.

Then, Haughey competed at the Mare Nostrum Series and won three gold medals and is looking to keep that momentum going on the world stage.

“The first stop was Monaco and we got to see the prince’s palace. It was amazing,” she said. “I really like going different places and racing.”

Along the way, she signed with arena and with pioneer GM Kaitlin Sandeno with the DC Trident of the International Swimming League.

“I feel very honored to be the first athlete sponsored by arena Hong Kong. Hopefully that inspires athletes in Hong Kong.

“One reason is I am a lot stronger now. I have been lifting heavier weights, but also since I didn’t really have a big summer meet last year, I am so motivated to show that I can do a lot better. I kind of felt like I lost an opportunity to swim last year because of my (foot) injury, but now I just am excited to swim well and see where I am at.”

Despite the foot injury, she was able to win a couple of Big Ten titles and earn All-American honors at NCAAs, leading Michigan to fourth place. But then she took the summer off and missed the Asian Games.

“When the Asian Games were going, I was home in Hong Kong and kept looking at the results knowing how I could have done,” Haughey said. “But ultimately, my goal is Tokyo, so I had to think long-term. Plus, I really wanted to swim well my senior year. It was a hard summer, but I had a great senior year and I am training really well right now.”

So well that people are noticing all over the world. She signed with the DC Trident and has helped to inspire international swimmers to come to the U.S. to swim in college like Haughey.

“At the Mare Nostrum Series, some up-and-coming swimmers had a lot of questions about swimming in the U.S., which is good. It is crazy to think I can inspire people like that. I put a lot of thought into decisions and so far, they have worked out pretty well,” she said. “So far, the choices have led me to great things, and hopefully they can continue that way.”

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Siobhan Haughey; Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

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Siobhan Haughey; Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

 

3 comments

  1. Hon Wa Lau

    She displayed the Hong Kong Flag upside down.

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