PETALING JAYA: National open water swimmer Heidi Gan is making solid progress in her bid to qualify for her second Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.
The 27-year-old capped off a memorable season by defending her title in the Western Australian Open Water State Championships at the Champion Lakes in Perth last Sunday. It was Heidi’s third straight win in the championships.
She finished the 10km swim in 1’58:50, 16 minutes ahead of second-placed Rebekah Weller of Australia.
Heidi also outshone some of the male contestants. Her time was the fifth fastest in the men’s category, just 1:49 behind champion Kane Radford. The New Zealand champion clocked 1’57:02.
“This win has given me a great confidence boost ahead of the Olympic qualifying event in Portugal next year,” said Heidi, who works as a paralegal at a law firm in Perth.
“I was able to keep pace with the lead men’s pack, which included four world class open water swimmers (from Australia, New Zealand and Scotland), for the first 9km of the race.
“The win also proved that my training programme is working. I will continue to work hard in my goal to qualify for Rio,” she added.
Heidi failed in her first attempt to qualify for Rio at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in July, after finishing 33rd. Only the top 10 were selected.
Fifteen spots are up for grabs in the qualifying event in Setubal, Portugal, from June 11-12 next year.
In Setubal in 2012, Heidi created history by becoming the first Malaysian to qualify for the Olympics in open water swimming. She subsequently finished a creditable 16th at the London Games.
Heidi, a double gold medallist at the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia, has achieved several commendable results this year.
In April, she splashed her way to a best-ever fourth spot in the third leg of the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup Series in Noumea, New Caledonia. She also took in two other legs, finishing 36th in Mexico and 15th in Hong Kong. She was placed 21st in the overall standings.