Siobhan Haughey Focused on Tokyo After Rise to World’s Elite

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Siobhan Haughey has already qualified for the 2020 Olympics. Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

Siobhan Haughey is in a unique position as a swimmer during this week of chaos that the coronavirus has wreaked on the world.

While many of her friends and training partners had their NCAA Championships taken away, Haughey graduated last year. While others are training for an Olympic trials, Haughey has already qualified for Tokyo.

It is a remarkable uniqueness that Haughey understands, and is grateful for.

“I feel very lucky,” Siobhan Haughey told Swimming World.

The Hong Kong national record holder has been in heavy training mode for months, building toward an Olympic taper.

Despite that heavy training, which will be altered by the coronavirus situation, Haughey threw down some impressive swims at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Des Moines earlier this month.

In the 100 free, she swam a 53.30 to break her own Hong Kong national record and defeat American favorite Simone Manuel (53.55). It was one of the biggest head-turning swims of 2020 so far.

Haughey also was second in the 200 freestyle (1:56.48), behind Katie Ledecky (1:54.59), but ahead of Manuel, Allison Schmitt and Leah Smith. Haughey also was fourth in the 400 freestyle (4:12.19) and fourth in the 50 freestyle (25.00).

“I was pretty surprised, especially with no long course training and not a lot of rest. That makes me feel like I am headed in the right direction,” she said. “Pacing, especially in the 200 is something I am working on. How comfortable I should be with going out fast. I feel like this year, we are asking more questions about technique and detail. We have been tweaking a lot of things to figure out what is right for me.”

Part of that has been aided by swimming some short course along with the college group at Michigan as they were preparing for NCAAs.

“Training is going well. We have been doing short course the past couple of months because of the college season. It allows me to work more on my speed, my turns, my details. So it hasn’t affected me too much,” she said.

Now, it is back to long course.

“I am glad I still train with the college team because I am close with most of the people on the team and the coaches (Mike Bottom, Rick Bishop and Josh White) know what I need to work on. It was hard when they are tapering and Jamie Yeung and I are training for the Olympics. It is just the two of us grinding by ourselves during the college taper.”

Haughey excelled during her four years at Michigan. During her four-year career, Haughey was a 14-time CSCAA All-American, 11-time CSCAA All-America Honorable Mention and 15-time Big Ten champion, establishing herself among the program’s all-time greats.

But, now a pro, taper is something Haughey hasn’t done since last year’s world championships.

“I have already qualified, so I haven’t had a taper meet since last summer. But every few weeks, I do an easier week to break up the long training block,” she said. “I feel like the past few years, I have been working really hard. There is only so much more I can do as far as training harder. We are instead focusing on training smarter.”

Haughey finished fourth in the 200 free at the 2019 World Championships, touching in the wall in 1:54.89, two tenths of a second behind Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, who won the bronze.

Haughey was that close to an international medal — and she hasn’t forgotten.

“Last summer, we know every 0.2 seconds count, so I am making sure I am doing everything I can to keep moving forward,” she said. “I think worlds definitely gave me a lot more confidence.”

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Siobhan Haughey; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

That wasn’t the case in the 2016 Olympics, when Haughey reached the semifinals.

“In Rio, I was so starstruck by everything. At times, I couldn’t believe I was at the Olympics. The first time was for the experience, now the second time, I know what things are like. I know the procedure, so hopefully, I will be less nervous and more calm,” she said. “In Rio, I still felt like there was a gap between me and the elite swimmers. Last year, I was contending for a medal. That shows me I am part of this group of top swimmers and can challenge them. That definitely gave me more confidence heading into Tokyo.”

With the coronavirus pandemic affecting the world, Haughey knows there is always a chance of the Olympics being postponed of even cancelled. But that speculation is out of her hands, so she is trying to put it out of her mind. She even has her post-Olympics future settled after signing with Energy Standard of the International Swimming League (ISL) earlier in the month.

“I have been hearing things about the Olympics, are they going to postpone it or cancel it? It is out of my hands,” Siobhan Haughey said. “It would be so disappointing because so many people trained their whole lives for this. I just have to train and do my part because I really can’t control the situation.

“Hopefully I will be as prepared as I possibly can.”

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