Hong Kong Olympians to take plunge in cross-harbour swimming race

All-star squad will join 3,000 amateurs tackling the 1.5km course, including a 68-year-old man and a girl who has just turned 12

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 September, 2016, 8:44pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 September, 2016, 1:56pm

Five swimmers who represented Hong Kong in the Rio Olympics will join the 3,000 amateurs competing in the cross-harbour race next month.

Olympics flag-bearer Stephanie Au Hoi-shun and “breaststroke queen” Yvette Kong Man-yi will take the plunge with teammates Claudia Lau Yin-yan, Camille Cheng and Sze Hang-yu.

Also taking part in the 1.5km race is Cheung Wing-tong, 68, one of the oldest swimmers, set to cross the water between Lei Yue Mun Sam Ka Tsuen Public Pier and Quarry Bay Park Public Pier, along with his 26-year-old twin daughters.

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Kong, who competed in the 100m and 200m breaststroke in Brazil last month, said: “There won’t be any problem for me to handle the distance.”

She said she had to swim 40 to 50km a week in training, so she should easily handle the course. “The purpose is really to participate in the event with Hong Kong people.”

But Kong and her all-star teammates will not be competing in the traditional “racing group” – instead, they will be assigned to the charity category.

While it may be easy for professional swimmers, for Cheung, competing in his first cross-harbour race at just short of 70, it was definitely a challenge.

He said a half-hour swimming session every morning had been part of his daily routine for two decades, but he admitted he had not been that far out to sea.

“[My daughters] asked me to join them this year,” Chueng said.

The youngest competitor is Tam Wing-yan, who was 12 last month.

“I have been expecting to take part in the race for a long time. My parents know that. They helped enrol me once I reach the required age,”she said.

Tam said her dream was to compete in the Olympics one day, but for now she would be happy to just complete the race.

Ng Kin-sun, vice-president of the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association, said it had received a record 3,500 applications this year, including 730 entries for the racing group and 2,850 for the leisure group.