The Covid-19 pandemic has done little to stymie the progress of Hong Kong Olympic hopeful swimmer Siobhan Haughey, after she surpassed the Asian record in the women’s 200-metre freestyle at a trial at the Hong Kong Sports Institute on Saturday. Even if her time of one minute and 54.44 seconds will not be recognised as an official record (the sport’s record-keepers have very strict rules about what constitutes a recognised swim), it proves the 22-year-old continues to be a force to be reckoned with in her pet event and is a genuine medal contender at the Tokyo Games next summer. All Asian women’s records are currently held by swimmers from China or Japan, including the 200m freestyle mark which was set by Rikako Ikee of Japan in 1:54.85 at the Pan Pacific Championships two years ago. But Haughey’s time was more than 0.3 second faster than Ikee, who is still recuperating from leukemia after being diagnosed with the deadly disease last year. Despite the continued spread of the global pandemic attack, Haughey has never stopped training in her build-up to the Tokyo Olympics. Hong Kong medal hope Haughey says delay will boost Olympic chances “Even though I wasn’t able to swim in April and May because there was a lockdown in Michigan, I tried really hard to maintain my fitness through doing on-land training,” said the US-based star. “ I think that’s why it didn’t take me too long to return to my original fitness when I was able to swim again. “ Since training at the Sports Institute again, I have been working closely with my coach in Michigan and also the Sports Institute coaches, and training has been going well. I also have a great group of training partners that I can race in practice so they make training challenging but also fun.” The Fo Tan training base has been locked down for two weeks due to a resurgence of the pandemic. Only elite athletes of their tier A sports are allowed to stay and train there. Swimming head coach at the Institute Chen Jianhong praised Haughey’s performance, saying, “Although the result will not be recognised as an official record, it shows people with a strong desire for success will not be hindered by any difficult situation to realise their dream.” Hong Kong’s Haughey leads Asia swim stars in ‘glow up’ quarantine video Haughey, who’s Hong Kong record stands at 1:54.98, set at last year’s World Championships in Gwangju, has no immediate plan to return to America. “The situation in the United States is still pretty unstable, so I might be staying in Hong Kong a little longer before heading back,” she said. Haughey is the first Hong Kong swimmer to make the Tokyo Olympics qualification in both the 100m and 200m freestyle. And she can also swim for Hong Kong in both the 4x100m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relays in Tokyo after Hong Kong made the qualification grade at last year’s World Championships.