Lianna Swan to represent Pakistan in 50m freestyle event at Olympics

Published: August 11, 2016
Lianna achieved her 
national record in the 50m freestyle event last year at the 16th World Aquatics Championship in Kazan, Russia last year. PHOTO COURTESY: LOUGHBOROUGH COLLEGE

Lianna achieved her national record in the 50m freestyle event last year at the 16th World Aquatics Championship in Kazan, Russia last year. PHOTO COURTESY: LOUGHBOROUGH COLLEGE

KARACHI: Swimming may be a favourite pastime for many and a tool for fitness for some, but when it comes to categorising the activity as a sport, especially at an international level, one will be hard put to find Pakistan’s name on the list of nations known for their swimmers.

But a certain 19-year-old is attempting to break the mould, with regional medals already under her belt along with seven national records. The teenager is also scheduled to be seen in action tomorrow at the ongoing Rio Olympics in the 50m freestyle event.

Lianna Catherine Swan will be competing with seven other swimmers in her heat, with a total of 92 swimmers in the category vying to earn a berth in the semi-finals.

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The Bahrain-born swimmer booked her place in the Olympics through a wild-card entry, granted by the International Swimming Federation on the basis of her performance at the 16th World Aquatics Championship in Kazan, Russia last year.

Born in the Awali city of Bahrain, Lianna has been swimming since the age of 12 when she moved to Dubai, where she was quickly spotted for her talent.

“I started swimming a couple of times a week, and then gradually increased it to eight times a week, going before school in the mornings and then sometimes in the evening,” said Lianna.

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She added that although she had to cut down the duration when she got into A-Levels, she made sure to give swimming her undivided attention whenever possible.

In her most recent achievements, Lianna won gold and silver medals in the women’s 200m and 100m breaststroke events respectively while representing her mother’s birth country at the 2016 South Asian Games (SAG) in India.

The swimmer possesses national records in both events with a time of 2min 48.85 sec in 200m and 1min 18.58sec in 100m. She holds a total of seven national records in 50m and 100m in freestyle, 50m and 100m in breaststroke, 200m in backstroke and 200m and 400m in individual medley.

Lianna was born to a British father and a Pakistani mother, so the young athlete had contrasting choices when it came to selecting the country to represent.

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“It was difficult to choose in the beginning, but after discussing with the coach and my parents, I decide to go for Pakistan as I would get a lot more out of being a part of the Pakistan team, since there’s a lot more people trying for the Great Britain team,” said the Loughborough College student.

“I’m very happy to represent Pakistan and hopefully I can go as far as I can with them,” she said, adding that opting for Pakistan opened up many opportunities for her that may have not been the case had she chosen to try out for the Britain team.

The youngster is always looking to the future and renews her aims after accomplishing her immediate goals.

“It’s been hard work, I haven’t got to where I want to be at all, but the people in Pakistan have always been there to support me,” said Lianna. “I have been to many international competitions for Pakistan, and it’s because of the country that I’m here today at the Olympics.”

Lianna says she has seen Pakistan grow in terms of girls’ participation in the sport. “I go back nearly every year for nationals and there are girls swimming with no restrictions. It’s great to see that, but unfortunately the standard of facilities there are hardly enough to propel them to excellence.”

The SAG champion concluded by saying she has been training hard for the Olympics and will give her best to improve her 50m freestyle national record, which she currently holds with a finishing time of 28.66 sec.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Asad
    Aug 11, 2016 - 9:39AM

    Good Luck and All The Best!Recommend

  • k k khan
    Aug 11, 2016 - 9:40AM

    All the best!Recommend

  • TSS
    Aug 11, 2016 - 10:02AM

    Goodluck !Recommend

  • Noble Tufail
    Aug 11, 2016 - 11:33AM

    Good luck Lianna .. God bless. glad you chose to wear green cap.Recommend

  • سے Shaam (Hanafi)
    Aug 11, 2016 - 12:25PM

    All the best to her, although I feel that these expats or foreigners only turn to their motherland when they do not qualify from their adopted lands. It’s easier to get a wild card entry from a populous and poor state then a rich one. If they had even a remote chance of winning a medal they would have qualified from their living state. The only solace is that they become Olympians with little talent.Recommend

  • ironMan!
    Aug 11, 2016 - 12:32PM

    you go girl! GoodluckRecommend

  • pakistani
    Aug 11, 2016 - 1:40PM

    Well done.

    VERY proud of youRecommend

  • Jude Allen
    Aug 11, 2016 - 1:52PM

    all the best :) Recommend

  • Ahsan
    Aug 11, 2016 - 2:01PM

    @سے Shaam (Hanafi):
    Absolutely true!Recommend

  • love it
    Aug 11, 2016 - 4:03PM

    Well done lianna !!!! please don’t come to any channels specially Pakistani media, don’t want those clerics to make another fatwa against you !!!

    God bless you with all the success !!!! aameen.. Recommend

  • Basharat Khan
    Aug 11, 2016 - 5:24PM

    All the best.Recommend

  • Dr. Abid Shah Mashwani
    Aug 11, 2016 - 6:01PM

    @سے Shaam (Hanafi):
    Even Pakistani rulers and ministers are ex pat and only come to Pakistan to rule. Look where NS, Zardari, Ch Nisar, Kh Asif, MQM and PTI leadership kids live?Recommend

  • Swan Lake.
    Aug 11, 2016 - 6:56PM

    You make Pakistan very proud. Give it your very best.Recommend

  • Abdul H
    Aug 11, 2016 - 9:03PM

    and those Indians who kept mocking us for not sending any athletes to Olympics?

    How are your athletes doing now?? Most of them are defeated in the trials and your best hope came only 4th.Recommend

  • Rajesh
    Aug 12, 2016 - 4:12AM

    @Abdul H:
    Even our suicide bombers lost in the trials. Thank you.Recommend

  • echoboom
    Aug 12, 2016 - 6:01AM

    Olympics are as tainted as Nobel prize, United Nations, and International Court of Justice….No need to get so worked up on these outfits ….Mafia had more discipline and law within than these hyenas in human clothes.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 12, 2016 - 6:45AM

    Don’t worry about winning. Competing in Olympics is a real deal. Proud of you.Recommend

  • Sultan Durrani
    Aug 12, 2016 - 7:47AM

    Wish you the best Lianna, Pakistanis are with you.Recommend

  • Hussain
    Aug 12, 2016 - 11:18AM

    Best WishesRecommend

  • danish mehmmod
    Aug 12, 2016 - 4:17PM

    can somebody plz tell the name of the music in the backgroundRecommend

  • Asadullah
    Aug 12, 2016 - 10:32PM

    Lianna InshAllah with the help of Allah you win a Gold Medal. The whole Pakistan and our prayers are with you. Recommend

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