Singaporean swimmer Tao Li has found a new training home in Jacksonville, Florida, where she will train under the watch of Sergio Lopez until at least this summer’s Asian Games.
The 24-year old had a breakout year in 2008, where she placed 5th at the Olympic Games in the 100 fly at just 18 years old – the second-youngest swimmer in the final, and nearly half-a-decade younger than any of the four women who placed ahead of her.
She carried that success through 2010, where she took gold at the Asian Games in the 50 fly and silver in the 100 fly.
Sometime in 2011, though, Li’s situation became very strained, as she moved onto her 3rd coach in 3 years, splitting with both Peter Churchill and Barry Prime to work with Ian Turner, a former head coach of the British National Team and coach with the North Shore club in New Zealand.
Li still was unable to find much in the way of success after that switch. She won a couple of minor medals at the 2012 Asian Championships, and in 2013 won both the 100 back and the 100 fly at the Southeast Asian Games. Her times, though, still weren’t quite up to where she was back in 2008.
Saturday, though, she popped up at the Jax 50 sprint meet in Jacksonville, Florida, and Lopez confirmed that Li is there to train until at least September when she leaves for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Li was born in China, and in 2002 at 13-years old they made the difficult decision to move to Singapore when Li was told she would be too short for the Chinese National Team (she stands only 5’3″ tall). She became a citizen in 2005, and qualified for both the 2008 Olympics and the 2012 Olympics, where she was 10th in the semi-finals of the 100 fly and 26th in the 100 back.
There is a strong Singapore-Bolles connection: one of the top swimmers in Bolles’ high school program is Joseph Schooling, a National High School Record holder. Schooling is also a 2012 Olympian and 2013 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist for Singapore, and is committed to swim at Texas next year.