FOR SOMEONE who didn't know how to swim until he was 14, Hong Kong canoe champion Raymond Lo Ho-yin can't seem to keep away from water these days. And with the spotlight on the ongoing Asian Games, Lo has been preparing harder than ever. Not even torrential rain, or the odd typhoon, will keep this easy-going 27-year-old away from his daily training regime of paddling, running or gym work for an hour before work and two hours in the evening. Lo, who starts competing in his third Asian Games today, has won 100 canoeing medals. The travel, new friends and honour of representing Hong Kong are just as important, he says. His top event is the K1 (individual), although he also takes part in K4 (four in a boat) races. Part of Hong Kong's five-member canoeing squad to Busan, he will be powering along in the K1 1,000 and 500 metres events over four days of competition and hopes for a top-10 finish. Lo made his canoeing debut in 1989 as a 15-year-old at TWGHs Yow Kam Yuen College in Shatin. His classmates convinced him to try it out. Until then, Lo had stuck to sport on dry land. 'I played football. Before Form Two I didn't know how to swim, so all my sport was on the ground - on water, no way,' Lo says. The challenge of learning and conquering the sport soon had him hooked. 'I had a great coach who made the sport interesting, so I wanted to learn more and more,' he adds. A year later, he was training with the Hong Kong team and soon became the territory's top junior, winning the Hong Kong Open Championship K1 and K2 junior 500-metre event, and a handful of other titles. And he has never looked back. 'I thought to myself, this is cool. This is a cool sport.' Lo has won a swag of local and international honours and he has dominated the Hong Kong canoeing scene for the past seven years. He has competed in many exotic locations, including Iran and Hungary, but admits to still feeling nervous before big races. 'Although I've been to big events before, you always feel a bit nervous as you line up,' he says. To avoid getting bored with training, he constantly sets himself goals and then tries to achieve them. Lo uses the skills he learns on the water, like concentration, in his day job monitoring computer traffic figures at the South China Morning Post. Most of his rivals are full-time professionals, but Lo only receives a small amount from the Hong Kong Sports Development Board, which goes towards his boat, which cost around $15,000. 'I'm not a professional, but I still train because I like the sport and I like the discipline it brings.' Lo spends what little spare time he has helping to run My Canoe Club ( www.mycanoeclub.com ) at Ma On Shan, where he passes on canoeing tips to boys and girls and hopes to find more potential champions. 'I think it's important for young people to try sport because, as with canoeing, it teaches them independence,' he said. 'In the water, nobody can help you, so you have to survive.'