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Siobhan Haughey wins the 200m freestyle at the Hong Kong Open Swimming Championships. Photo: Dickson Lee

Hong Kong Swimming Championships: Siobhan Haughey in winning return, Hayden Kwan smashes record

  • Swimming in hometown for 1st time in 15 months, Haughey wins 200 metres freestyle in comeback after injury that caused her to miss World Championships
  • Kwan, newly qualified for Hong Kong, breaks city’s 100m backstroke record

Siobhan Haughey made a winning return at the Hong Kong Open Swimming Championships on Saturday after an eight-month absence from the pool, while teenager Hayden Kwan showed his Paris potential with a Hong Kong record.

Freshly recovered from a foot injury, Haughey was competing for the first time since the short-course World Championships in Abu Dhabi in December, and the first time in her hometown in 15 months.

And she did not disappoint, finishing first in the 200 metres freestyle in one minute, 56.47 seconds – more than 2.5 seconds slower than her personal best but good enough to qualify for next year’s long-course World Championships in Japan.

The two-time Olympic silver medallist was forced to miss the Mare Nostrum Tour in Europe in May and the long-course World Championships the following month because of an injury sustained to her right ankle in a poolside slip. She said in a commercial press conference last month that she was “anxious” to return to action.
Hayden Kwan celebrates his city record in the 100m backstroke at Victoria Park. Photo: Dickson Lee

Having last competed in Hong Kong in May last year, Haughey – who will race again on Sunday in the 400m freestyle – finished ahead of Ho Nam-wai in 2:02.81, with Katii Tang Tsoi-lam touching third in 2:04.32.

Backstroke specialist Kwan, 19, was newly eligible to set Hong Kong records after serving 12 months’ residency since his move from the United States – and he wasted no time in doing so in emphatic fashion.

He clocked 55.61 seconds to win the 100m backstroke, coming home an impressive 0.89 seconds faster than Lau Shiu-yue’s city record, held since last May.

“I’m very pleased with today’s time,” said Kwan, who had clocked 56.53 in the preliminary round on Saturday morning. “I expected to swim around 55.9 seconds.”

Lau, the now deposed record-holder, finished second in 58.14, and Chan Tsz-chiu was third in 58.41.

“I’m also happy to see Hayden breaking my record,” Lau, 25, said. “The record is there for people to break, and it’s good competition for us to raise the bar together.”

Kwan, who was born in the US to Hongkonger parents, postponed his freshman year at Stanford University and returned to Hong Kong last August, hoping to represent the city, potentially at the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

“Having my time recorded as a Hong Kong record is motivating for me,” he said. “I am honoured to represent Hong Kong because both of my parents were born and raised in the city. I am excited to represent Hong Kong at upcoming major events – world championships, Asian Games and the Olympics.”

Kwan had swum faster than Lau’s 200m backstroke record of 2:05.07 in April’s time trial, with a time of 2:00.77, but it was not officially recognised as the city record because of his status.

Meanwhile, James Lau Kin-hei broke a Hong Kong junior record in the 200m butterfly preliminary round with a time of 2:04.68.

On Sunday, Kwan has another chance to break a Hong Kong record, in the 200m backstroke.

Stephanie Au Hoi-shun, who returned to Hong Kong last month, will compete in the 100m backstroke on Sunday. The veteran had relocated to the Gold Coast in December to train with Chris Mooney, who was coach to Kaylee McKeown when she won three gold medals at last year’s Olympics.

The 30-year-old Au was in action on Saturday, winning the 50m backstroke in 29.10sec.