Friday July 20, 2012
Heidi won’t freeze in London
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Heidi Gan will be immersed into an entirely new environment when she makes her Olympic plunge in open water swimming next month.
There will be no risk of getting stung by a jellyfish as she was en route to her historic double gold triumph at the Indonesia SEA Games course in Putri Island last year.
But the cold water of the Serpentine in Hyde Park, the stage for the Olympic competition on Aug 9, is no less intimidating.
The 23-year-old has been doing up to 10 sessions every week, mixing it up with gym work and physiotherapy, since she earned her Olympic ticket at the world qualifiers in Portugal early last month.
But the 23-year-old, who is based in Perth, has added an open water swim session in cooler waters in anticipation of the challenges she will face at the Olympics.
“I’m getting excited, especially as I will be leaving for the Games in less than a week,” said Heidi.
“I’m training just as well, if not faster than I was before I went to Portugal.
“I have picked up open water swim sessions in cooler waters to help me acclimatise to the cold conditions in London.
“I’ve heard that the water temperature will be approximately 18-21 degrees Celsius in Hyde Park.
“Swimming in 16 degrees waters at Setubal made me realise I don’t have a lot of experience in such cold conditions. I have chosen to practise in cold water in Perth prior to leaving for London to build up my confidence.It’s easy enough to do that in Perth because it is currently winter here and the river and lakes range from a chilly 14 to 18 degrees at the moment,” said Heidi.
Being a relative newcomer to the sport, Heidi is already making a big statement with her presence among the elite 25 at the Games.
“I don’t have any targets as open water is so unpredictable.
“Many of those who made the Olympics from Setubal were unexpected qualifiers, athletes who, like me, had only been open water racing for only a few years.
“This shows that anything can happen, so I will go into the race with an open mind.
“I will be racing against the world’s best and will take full advantage of this opportunity as I have nothing to lose,” added Heidi, who will be returning home to pick up her accreditation before flying to London with her coach Matthew Magee next week.