Home sweet home – record-breaking Hong Kong swimmer Kenneth To has no regrets leaving Australia
The 25-year-old who was raised in Sydney has set 13 marks since he started representing the city in June last year
Kenneth To King-him had no idea what to expect when he left Sydney to swim for Hong Kong. And the 25-year-old has no regrets after a stellar 10 months wearing the Hong Kong colours, setting 13 records along the way.
To, who started to represent Hong Kong in June last year, set four long-course and nine short-course records in that time and also captured a silver medal at the China National Games in Tianjin where he swam with Chinese star Sun Yang in a joint relay team.
It was also the first medal for Hong Kong at the Games since they made their debut in 1997 after the handover.
“I want to say it is a memorable experience,” said To after receiving an award for his outstanding achievements from the Swimming Association on Tuesday. “Each month that I raced and each competition that I went to is another highlight of my swimming career.
“Swimming in Australia was getting to the point of being a little bit repetitive and did not satisfy me in terms of race opportunity and improvement. Coming back to Hong Kong has given me a second chance and a new perspective on swimming and swimming in my life. The National Games was exceptional as I raced in front of a big crowd cheering for you.”
Other swimmers honoured included Yvette Kong Man-yi, Stephanie Au Hoi-shun, Derek Ng Chun-nam, Camille Cheng Lily-mei, Chan Kin-lok and Sze Hang-yu.
To was born in Hong Kong and went to Australia at the age of two. He was raised in Sydney where he learned the sport.
At the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore, To burst on to the international scene, taking home six medals – a gold in the 4×100 metres medley relay, three silvers and two bronze.
Four years later in Glasgow, To won two medals for Australia at the Commonwealth Games – one gold as a heat swimmer for the 4×100m freestyle, and one silver as a breaststroke heat swimmer in the 4×100m medley relay.
However, a back injury hindered his progress and after meeting his girlfriend at the 2015 World Cup in Hong Kong, he decided to return to the place of his birth.
“I enjoy every moment in Hong Kong, and am very happy to be representing Hong Kong at the highest level,” said To, who is setting his sights on this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, where he will take on the top swimmers from the region.