Our most-recently published High-Level International Meet schedule posted a competition slated to take place in Hong Kong for March. We now know that there will be specific conditions associated with this Olympic-qualifying meet, with swimmer-exclusive ramifications.
Set for March 21st at the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) in Fo Tan Hong Kong, the Olympic Qualifier will serve as the first elite home meet since 2020. And, elite it will be, as only training grant swimmers will be allowed to compete, bringing the grand total number of athletes to just 66.
Additionally, fans and press will be shut out of the event, rendering it taking place behind closed doors.
For the athletes, the meet will follow the International Swimming League (ISL) bubble-type environment. Per The South China Morning Post, ‘all participants will be tested for Covid-19 before the event. Full-time athletes are being tested by the Institute on a weekly basis, while part-time swimmers and officials will be required to take the test three days before the event. All officials and part-time athletes can only enter the Institute with a negative test result.’
Drilling this down to specific swimmers, national record holder and former Michigan Wolverine Siobhan Haughey is among those expected to compete at the meet. Per Michigan coach Rick Bishop, Haughey and Jamie Yeung both transitioned back to Hong Kong in June of 2020 amind the United States’ COVID-19 lockdowns.
Bishop describes the Hong Kong environment as a ‘very, very restrictive bubble’, characterized by ‘living at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in the dorms and not being able to leave for over a month due to COVID protocols.’
Bishop keeps on top of his athletes via workouts conveyed to David Wong at HKSI. The Michigan coach himself will be heading over to Hong Kong in early June to work with HKSI prior to the postponed Olympic Games.