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BYU swimmer targets Hong Kong Olympic team

Rachel Grant has a dream of swimming in the 2012 Olympic Games — for Hong Kong.

__IMAGE1__Yes,

the BYU swimmer was born of a Chinese mother and an American father in

Hong Kong. Though she only lived there for a short while after her

birth, she has dual passports and dual citizenship, leaving her fully

credited to swim for the team from her other country.

Of

course, before she decides if she has enough oomph left to train for a

year on her own for the next Olympics, Grant is happily training and

competing in the water for the BYU Cougars.

Her specialties are the butterfly and the individual medley, and she says midrange distances are her forte.

She

has plenty of victories this year for the Cougars and has been named

Mountain West Conference swimmer of the week twice. She was the only

Cougar to qualify last season for the NCAA nationals as a sophomore,

and she hopes to peak at the right time to yet again find herself

swimming in the national championships.

She'd

rather have members of her team there with her though, and the team is

working hard to peak for the Mountain West Conference championships in

three weeks.

"We try to peak for

conference, we wear our fast suits and go for the national cuts then,"

said Grant, who, along with her teammates, practices about 20 hours a

week, leaving her muscles feeling like putty much of the time. And

every time the group leaves the pool they run right to food after

discussing cravings throughout practice.

The

BYU women's team finds itself in first place in the MWC this season

with a 7-0 record and only one meet remaining, against in-state rival

Utah, today.

"All of us have done really well. The freshmen have helped a lot with points and energy and have contributed a lot," said Grant.

Coming

to BYU was the first time Grant really felt a part of a team despite

swimming since she was six and swimming competitively since she was

eight.

"I love the support of a team. Our motto this year is 'For Each Other,'" she noted.

And

the junior now craves that team support and the support of the coaches

so much that she's a little concerned she won't meet her goal of

competing in the Olympics for Hong Kong. She's been competing for the

Hong Kong club teams for three years now as just out of high school the

opportunity came around for her to try out for the Olympics in 2008.

She

didn't make it to the Olympics, but she was chosen for the National

Team World University Games last year in Serbia and did well

considering she hadn't been training long course.

She

heads over to Hong Kong every summer to train, but she's not sure if

she wants to fight her way through a year of training for an Olympic

berth after graduating from BYU in a year.

"It's definitely a goal that's constantly in my mind. We'll see where I am in my life then," she said.

Though

Grant's specialty is what many consider the most difficult of the four

disciplines, she has always been natural with the butterfly.

And

while she's not all that fond of the breast stroke and considers it her

weakest event, she's able to compete in individual medley because

"after the fly I'm able to do the breast stroke for some reason."

When

she started competing the IM at the age of 13, she never thought it was

her best event, but it was the only event she qualified in for the

junior Olympics. Grant's top three events are the 200 meter butterfly,

the 200 meter individual medley and the 400 meter individual medley,

but she often swims in off-events for the Cougars just like all of the

other swimmers on the team do.Grant hopes to combine her passion for

swimming with a degree in psychology to establish a career as a marine

life trainer, which will leave her in the water with dolphins and

whales at a place like Sea World.

"That's

my dream job. It wouldn't just be a job, it would also be my passion,"

she said, noting she'll need to work an internship for a year, and

she's hoping to find one at Sea World.

But if the lifelong animal lover can't make it as a marine life trainer, she has some great ideas for designing swimsuits.

And

she has some family members coming up in the swimming ranks, as she and

all three of her sisters love the water. But the one thing she doesn't

like, that wouldn't be a problem if she swam with the dolphins in San

Diego, is the snow and cold.

"My hair seriously turns into icicles and gets all crunchy when I go outside," she said.


E-mail: jolsen@desnews.com