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1. Hayley Hoy was born on March 1, 2008 and spent the first nine years of her life growing up in Big Bend. “I’m the only child to my single parent mother.  My mum and I moved to Mhlambanyatsi when I was turning 10 for school, but after COVID-19, I decided to stay with online schooling. My grandparents also live in the same property as us, so I am blessed to be surrounded by a loving family every day,” she said.

2. The Junior Sports Woman of the Year mentions that when she was little, growing up in a hot environment in Big Bend, she spent a lot of time in the swimming pool. “I used to pretend from when I was a child that I was a mermaid and belonged in the water. Water has always been my happy place. I first got into a swimming pool in Mozambique when I was 11 weeks old. I could swim a full length of a pool by the age of three and did my first level 0 gala which is 25m gala at St Michael’s at the age of four,” she reveals.

3. The Eswatini swimming sensation who recently got three medals in the African Swimming Confederation (CANA) Zone IV Championships in Luanda, Angola went to Ubombo Primary School and then Usutu Primary School, but she said for now she was schooling at Hatfield Online School which is based in Pretoria, South Africa and is an IEB/ISASA registered school. “I’m currently in Grade 9 and deciding what subjects I’m going to continue with for Grade 10-12, as a result of what I will study at university. I would like to study either law or something in the medical field after school,” Hayley said.

4. She said she chose to carry on with the online school after COVID-19 because she found it accommodating to her swimming much better. “I don’t have to spend long hours at school during the day and then only train late. I’m able to give a lot more to my swimming by doing the online schooling, although it takes a lot of discipline to do school on your own,” she shared.

5. The Eswatini top swimmer’s biggest dream is to be the very first female liSwati swimmer to qualify for the Olympics one day. “I will continue to train to my best of abilities until I achieve my goal, which realistically will only be around the time I turn 20 years old or even older, which means the 2028 Olympics or 2032 Olympics, because female swimmers tend to struggle through puberty with progressing their times in swimming ,” she says.

6. Hayley who is known for breaking swimming records feels like being a female athlete in swimming is very tough as you become a teenager. “Girls’ bodies change during puberty, affecting their stroke and making it more difficult for them to progress, due to the change in their bodies .Yet for males, they grow taller, gain lean muscle mass and the likes, but I do believe that if females are given the right support by their coaches, peers and the stakeholders in their sport, that we will find it easier to see it through,” she laments.

7. The 15-year-old says she is fortunate enough to have a one lane, 25m heated swimming pool at home which she says was built for her during COVID-19. “My mum who is my coach saw the effect that not being in the water has on swimmers. I am lucky enough to be able to swim at whatever time that suits me and not have to travel long distances to train,” she says.

8. She says her biggest swimming role model is Katinka Hosszu from Hungary. “She has achieved so much in her swimming career and I enjoy the same events she does. She was the first swimmer (male or female) to hold all five individual medley event world records at the same time. Her nickname is Iron lady, showing the strength she possesses and it’s that the type of strength I aspire to have to keep moving forward and achieve my dreams,” she reveals.

9. Hoy says she is a Christian and believes in God. “I always remind myself that I swim for an audience of 1 (God) and not for public recognition, nor for anyone else. I swim to honour and glorify God,” she adds.

10. The multiple age group record holder nicknamed ‘Mshina’ in the swimming fraternity mentions that   the journey as an athlete is very tough and also a blessing. “ There are hard days, there are tough seasons, there are times when you just don’t achieve your goals, or you cannot get the time you want, or a race doesn’t go your way, times where you feel a lot of pressure from various sources, but at the end of the day, it is exciting to be an athlete.  It is fun and I have made so many amazing memories along the way, met so many interesting people, made some awesome friends and I get to pursue my passion every single day. I swim for myself and for God, I swim because I love it,” she emphasises.