Island School student aims to break her own HK record in the 100m freestyle as she sets her sights on a top-eight finish in 2008 Hannah Wilson has come a long way. No more is she swimming against the tide, wondering about her chances of representing Hong Kong. A fully fledged member of the aquatic set-up, she has repaid the faith of local officials by becoming one of the leading lights in the pool and Hong Kong's best chance of glory in Doha and beyond. 'I am really excited about the prospect of taking part in my first Asian Games. Everything has been going according to plan and I hope I can achieve my goals,' says Hannah confidently. Her self-assurance stems from the fact she is Hong Kong's top swimmer. The 17-year-old holds the blue-riband 100-metre freestyle record - 56.51 seconds. And her goal is to lower the mark in Doha. That might not win her a medal - the Chinese and Japanese swimmers are favoured to sweep the trinkets - but it will keep the dream alive, and that's qualifying for the finals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. 'My long-term goal is Beijing. It is a big step to try to make it through the heats to the next round. But I will try to do that,' Hannah said this week. It is certainly a big step. Hannah will need to trim 11/2 seconds from her time if she is to come anywhere near having a chance of making it to the last 16 at the Beijing Olympics. At the 2004 Athens Olympics - after all the drama surrounding her eligibility had died down when she was given a special dispensation by the International Olympic Committee to represent Hong Kong as she didn't have an SAR passport - Hannah proved her class by breaking her own Hong Kong record in the heats. She swam an excellent race, finishing fourth in 57.33. That time was not enough to see her qualify for the semi-finals - only the top 16 women from a field of 51 qualified. Hannah was ranked 34th in the world on her timing. She knows a lot of hard work lies in front of her if her next big dream - now that she has already experienced an Olympic Games - is to materialise. Even before she broke the old record for the first time, in August 2003, as a 14-year-old, her potential was evident. The Island School teenager was first spotted at a local meet and brought into the national set-up. It wasn't only local coaches who saw her talent. A few years ago, the British came knocking on her door. With her British passport, she could have taken the option of swimming for Britain, but with both parents working here, she opted to stay in Hong Kong. Hannah has lowered her 100m mark at regular intervals. Every six to eight months, since that first watershed, Hannah has set new highs. Her best effort came last January at the Australian Youth Olympics in Sydney, when she wiped a remarkable seven-tenths of a second off the mark she set in Athens. 'It was totally out of the blue and a lot better than I thought I would do,' she said. 'It was a huge chunk of time. I could feel my technique was good and I knew that it would be a fast time, but I wasn't expecting to be that fast.' In August this year, at the British Nationals, she broke the record again. And she hopes to go one better in Doha next month. If she continues in this vein, Hannah is well on target to swim 54 seconds in 2008, a time which would give her a chance of being in the final. But now comes the hard part. 'My next big step hopefully will be when I go to university in the United States next year. This is my final year at Island School, and I feel I will benefit from the coaching and competing against top swimmers in America. The new environment will help me,' says Hannah. She will join the University of California, Berkeley, the same campus another top Hong Kong swimmer and Asian Games teammate, Sherry Tsai Hiu-wai, is attending. 'I will be able to devote more time to training when I'm there. At the moment I train 10 times a week, but it is not enough if I'm to take the next step,' says Hannah, who will train under Terry McKeever. In April, Hannah and teammates Tsai, Sze Hang-yu and Chan Yu-ning, made history when they smashed a Hong Kong record in the 4x100m freestyle relay in the final at the world short-course championships in Shanghai. It was the first time Hong Kong had made it to a world final. Hannah's dream now is to do it alone at the Olympics. TIME AFTER TIME Hannah Wilson's 100 metres freestyle progression 58.23 seconds - 2003, August. British Nationals, UK. 57.79 - 2004, January. Queensland Open, Australia 57.60 - 2004, March. National Trials, Kowloon Park 57.33 - 2004, August. Olympic Games, Athens 56.63 - 2005, January. Australian Youth Olympics, Sydney 56.51 - 2006, August. British Nationals. UK ? - 2006, December. Asian Games, Doha ? - 2008, August. Olympic Games, Beijing World record 53.42 - 2006, January. Lisbeth Lenton (Australia) Melbourne Olympic record 53.52 - 2004, August. Jodie Henry (Australia), Athens Asian record 54.01 - 1994, Rome. Le Jingyi (China) Also world record at the time.