A SWITCH from the pool to open water swimming two years ago may soon pay dividends for Heidi Gan as she will be making an attempt to qualify for the London Olympics at an event in Setubal Bay in Portugal on June 9-10.
If Heidi finishes in the top-15 bracket in the 10-kilometre event, she will become the first Malaysian open water swimmer to qualify for the Olympics.
The 23-year-old, however, will not only have to endure the choppy waters in Portugal but also 34 other world class swimmers.
The event in Portugal is the only other Olympic qualifying competition besides last year's World Championships in Shanghai, where 10 swimmers made the cut.
Despite limited experience, Heidi is hoping to make it count as she may not be around for the next Olympics.
She was only given the nod for the Portugal event after clinching two gold medals at last year's Indonesia Sea Games.
"I had been training with Portugal in mind long before the Sea Games," said Heidi yesterday.
"My coach Matt Magee and I had to plan our training programme as such as this event requires total commitment.
"My programme involves nine training sessions, three gym and circuit classes plus numerous other activities to keep my body intact.
"It's mentally challenging and tough but it is the type of training I require for this race."
A place in the Olympics will certainly make her day but Heidi will also be happy to achieve a top-20 finish.
Heidi added: "Everyone in Portugal will be aiming to qualify for the Olympics and given that I am still new in this sport, I will be happy with a top-20 finish." By Ajitpal Singh