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How #PacificAusSports helped prepare Fijian Swimmer Cheyenne Rova for the biggest race of her career.

When did you know you wanted to be a swimmer and when did the dream to represent Fiji at the Olympics start?

Swimming was part of the school curriculum, so that’s how I got started with swimming and I really enjoyed it. Then I started at the Pacific School Games out here in Australia in Melbourne in 2005, when I went on my first trip for Fiji and it was really exciting.

From there, that’s when the passion started. But to go to the Olympics, I think I am a person who takes things one step at a time. I’ve been to the Pacific Games and then the Commonwealth Youth Games, the Commonwealth Games and then the World Championships, so the only one left was the Olympics.

So that’s when I was thinking, you know maybe it’s something I could do.

How was the wait to get the message that you were on your way to Tokyo as part of Team Fiji?

It was more stressful than actually racing! That wait is definitely more stressful.

What was your training like during the pandemic?

Initially I would swim every day and do gym three times a week.

Then, when the pandemic hit, we were off training for three months out of the pool. We were still able to do land and gym training and then FASNOC were nice enough to send out gym equipment to everyone who was trialling for the games and so that came in handy.

It came to December last year and we were put into lockdown again, which was right before trials. We were in lockdown for about 8 weeks before we got the opportunity to come over here to Australia thanks to the Australian Government - so that was really, really nice.

For eight weeks during lockdown I had been swimming in a 15-metre pool in my backyard. It was hard.

We did two weeks in quarantine in Australia and it was initially hard to get back into swimming in a 50m pool, but I had a positive mindset and we are not too far from the games, so I need to be positive to get back up there.

While in quarantine, I kept thinking about just being able to get back into a pool. That has been the biggest challenge. Training in a 15-metre pool for eight-weeks, then two-week quarantine and then straight back to it.

It didn’t end up being as hard as I thought as even though I had been training in a 15-metre pool, it still helped the transition when I got to Sydney.

What does it mean to have the support from Australian Government and PacificAus Sports program in getting you prepared and safely over to the Olympic Games?

I am really grateful to the Australian Government and PacificAus Sports for the opportunity to come to Australia because if it wasn’t for them, I would still be stuck in a 15-metre pool in my backyard.

Our coaches out here at Sydney Olympic Park did a really great job at getting us up and going during practices. I’ve seen a big improvement in the two weeks I’ve been here so it’s been great.

What are your goals for Tokyo 2020?

I’m really hoping to go out there and perform to the best that I can in that moment. I think the 50 is so short that everything needs to be perfect to execute the best race. I’ve been working on it here in training and everything seems to be going how I hoped it would – so I am hoping to do a PB. That’s what I am expecting to do.

What message do you want to share to family and friends back home in Fiji?

It is never too late to dream. I am 26 years old and I feel like to a lot of people, my dream of going to the Olympics wasn’t like most people.

It’s something I thought about not too long ago and if you put your mind to it anything is possible really.

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