While many 14-year-olds are hanging out with their friends, taking selfies and trying out the latest hair styling trends, SUGA Olivia Borg spends most of her time in the water.
The teenage swimming sensation is currently ranked Number 1 in Australia for the 100 metre Butterfly for her age group. She trains alongside Olympic Swimming legend Grant Hackett and is coached by Veteran swimming coach (and Hackett’s coach) Denis Cotterell.
But training alongside Hackett, who is looking to have another shot at the Olympics next year, doesn’t phase Olivia.
“To me he’s just like any other team mate. He gives up a lot of his time at the pool to talk to us younger kids and he has time for everyone. It’s cool seeing him win his events because I know he trains so hard,” she says.
Olivia, who lives in the Gold Coast started swimming lessons at age five. Soon after, her parents noticed that she started “gliding” through the water. A decade later and she is training six days a week – three hours per session including the gym. Her days start as early at 5am but Olivia says it’s not as hard as it sounds.
“I was lucky enough to be sponsored by POGO Physio and they make sure that I am in my best physical shape. I’m still young and growing so at this stage so I’m not too strict on what I eat.”
Olivia’s Samoan mother Salome is from Foailuga, Savaii and her father Charlie is Tongan and Maltese. She says having parents who are health conscious helps a lot and it is fun when the family run together and enjoy plenty of walks on the beach.
Salome says Olivia has a great work ethic and natural self-discipline.
“We encouraged Olivia to do something she enjoys. She tried a few other activities like gymnastics, dancing and soccer but she always came back to swimming,” she laughs.
“She’s not the ‘let’s hang out and play after school’ type of girl. She just goes straight from school and into the water! It’s great because she has a solid group of friends at her club so in a way she is still ‘hanging out after school.’”
Olivia’s goal is to make the squad for the Commonwealth 2018 games.
“Staying focused for me is like a GPS,” says Olivia. “I know what my destination is and my GPS (coach) will help me get there. When I take the wrong turn or get distracted or tired, my ‘GPS’ helps me get back on track. I have amazing swimming coaches who have coached other world champion swimmers so I’m in good hands.”
Until then she has plenty of events to keep her in form. She recently competed in the Australian Age Swimming championship in Sydney. Next up, the Pacific School Games in Adelaide in November.
Olivia is not the only Samoan SUGA swimmer coming up in the ranks. 14-year-old SUGA Gabrielle Fa’amausili from Auckland, New Zealand is the current 50 metres backstroke world champion.