Siobhan Haughey: Inside Her 80-Hour Trip Around the World to Qualify for Olympics

Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

Siobhan Haughey had a huge year for the Michigan women’s swim team, but it was a stunningly packed 80-hour period last week that was the highlight of her year.

It began at 7 a.m. on Friday, April 12, when Haughey left Ann Arbor and flew from Detroit to her native Hong Kong. She finally landed at 5 p.m. after a 15-hour flight.

Exhausted from the travel, Haughey had to race the following morning in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Festival of Sport.

“I tried to sleep a lot on the plane. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was trying to work on my papers. I had to make good use of my time since I was on the plane for 15 hours. I got to have dinner and spend some time with my family. Then I got a full night of sleep,” Haughey told Swimming World. “In the morning, I was ready to go.”

She was aiming to qualify for the World Championships. But Haughey did one better. Not only did she reach the automatic qualifying time for worlds, but she reached the standard for the Olympics, qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo games.

“I wasn’t expecting any of that. I wasn’t expecting to go a best time. My goal was to make the World Championships qualifying time, but I made the Olympic time. I surprised myself.

“I wasn’t too nervous about it. I was excited to be home and race at home. The last time I raced in Hong Kong was two years ago. It was great to see all of the young swimmers. They all wanted to take a picture with me and talk to me. It was really nice.” — Siobhan Haughey


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Haughey has become the most decorated swimmer in the history of Hong Kong, leading to all of the attention back home.

“It is always a privilege when people want to take a picture with you. Sometimes it still surprises me because I rarely swim there. But they keep up with Hong Kong athletes even if they are not training there. I feel honored because I am inspiring people I guess,” she said.

She swam the 100 free in 53.38 and the 200 free in 1:57.51 during prelims, qualifying for Worlds and the Olympics in both events. After the whirlwind of travel, she skipped the finals.

“I already achieved my goals in prelims, so I skipped the finals session and spent some time with my family because I don’t get to be in Hong Kong that often,” she said.

Plus, she had to be back on a plane the next morning — another big accomplishment awaited.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

“I left on Monday morning. Got back to Ann Arbor at 6 p.m. then had to go straight to our student athletic banquet to receive the Big Ten Medal of Honor,” she said. “It is a huge deal to me. I got an email from the athletic department telling me I was nominated, but they wanted me to fill out some things. I was still on the plane when I found out. I was very shocked but very happy. I am extremely honored to receive this award. It recognizes someone who does well in athletics and academics. That is what I have tried to so since I got here.”

Haughey landed on time and was able to receive her award on campus in Ann Arbor, where year 80-hour whirlwind began.

Now, she can breathe a sigh of relief. She made it to everything, qualified for everything and can focus on the future.

“It is a great feeling. Kind of relief. Now I know I am going. I don’t have to keep worrying about finding meets to make the qualifying time. Now I can focus on training and hopefully do really well at the Olympics.

“Going for the second time is different. The first time is for the experience. The second time is more serious. I definitely want to final in the 200 free and see what I can do in the 100 free. I want to do some best times. Last year, I wasn’t able to race in the summer because of my injury. I want to drop some time and see what I can do.” — Siobhan Haughey

It will be a whirlwind in Tokyo, but Haughey has proved she can thrive in a whirlwind.


  1. avatar
    Jennifer Parks

    Brava, Siobhan!
    J.P., Former MSU Women’s Coach

  2. avatar

    Another top notch student-athlete at the University of Michigan!