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Siobhan Haughey celebrates after winning the 200m freestyle and breaking the short-course world record at the World Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Xinhua

Siobhan Haughey back in the pool for Hong Kong Open Championships after eight-month absence

  • Star swimmer will race for the first time in 2022, competing in three freestyle events at Victoria Park Pool this weekend
  • ‘Our target is allow her to regain her feeling in the water before she gets back to more competitions later this year,’ head coach says

Siobhan Haughey will compete for the first time in eight months at the Hong Kong Open Championships in Victoria Park this weekend.

The 24 year-old will take part in three freestyle events for her first competitive action in the pool in 2022, after she was forced to miss the Mare Nostrum Tour in May and the World Championships in Budapest the following month because of injury.

“This will be her first event and a warm up race at the beginning of the season,” said Chen Jianhong, head swimming coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute.

“Our target is allow her to regain her feeling in the water before she gets back to more competitions later this year.”

Haughey has not competed since the short course World Championships in Abu Dhabi last December when she won gold in the 100 metres and 200m freestyle, setting a short-course world record in the latter with a time of one minute and 50.31 seconds.

Siobhan Haughey during the 200m freestyle final in Abu Dhabi. Photo: AP

But just before her planned return to long course competition in May at the Mare Nostrum Tour in Monaco, Barcelona and Canet-en-Roussillon, a poolside slip during training in Dubai left her with an injured right ankle, forcing her to miss the events and the World Championships the following month.

Haughey later revealed she had been “a little down” after her withdrawal from the World Championships as she had been preparing for it “for a long time”, having narrowly missed a podium finish at the 2019 World Championships with a fourth-placed finish in the 200m free.

The 2021 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan were postponed to make way for the Tokyo Olympics where she claimed two silver medals in the 100m and 200m freestyle.

After the Hong Kong Championships, Haughey will switch to short-course events again as she plans to take part in three of the World Cup legs this year, starting in Berlin on October 21 – all of which will be part of her preparation for the short-course World Championships again in Melbourne in December.

This weekend’s three-day Victoria Park Pool event is the major domestic race on the calendar for Hong Kong swimmers. Haughey, who is the Hong Kong record holder in all three of the events in which she takes part, will compete against her fellow team members.

Siobhan Haughey at the medal ceremony for the 100 metre free in Abu Dhabi. Photo: AP

In the 100m free, she will face competition from Katii Tang Tsoi-lam, Tam Hoi-lam, Tinky Ho Nam-wai and veteran Sze Hang-yue. But Haughey’s record time of 52.27 seconds – set at the Tokyo Olympics – will be far beyond the reach of all of them.

It will be a similar situation in both the 200m and 400m free events, with Haughey standing out against the rest of the pool.

In the men’s event, promising youngster Hayden Kwan will be able to record his first result as a Hong Kong swimmer after meeting the one-year residence requirement set by the Hong Kong China Swimming Association.

Hayden Kwan aims to qualify for Hong Kong at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Photo: Shirley Chui

The 19-year-old, who was born in the United States to Hong Kong parents, returned to the city last year and has since set his sights on qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In June, he bettered Lau Shiu-yue’s 200m backstroke Hong Kong record by almost two seconds with a time of 2:3.39, but the result was not recognised as Kwan was not yet eligible as a Hong Kong swimmer.