ROANOKE, Va. – He made his first splash by the age of five at the Blacksburg Aquatic Center.
“I do remember learning to swim with my Dad,” said Ho. “He would let go and take a couple steps back and I would have to swim after him and he really wouldn’t come over and save me until I started crying, or what not, or until I swam to him.”
Ian Ho chose the latter-- not only swimming to his Dad but surviving and thriving in the years to come. Most recently, it led to the Blacksburg native qualifying for Team Hong Kong in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
“As soon as I hit the wall and saw the time, I was congratulated by my teammates,” said Ho. It was a record-setting time of 21.97 in the 50 meter freestyle. A feat that made him the first Hong Kong men’s swimmer to achieve Olympic A qualifying standard. Ho was equally excited that his family was able to watch.
“They were still up, they were super happy for me and I was grateful they were able to watch it and be there to see me actually do it,” Ho said.
He describes his journey as a natural progression after joining a swim club as a youngster in the New River Valley.
“You start getting more serious like waking up at 4:45 for 5:30 practices and start doing other things outside of swimming,” said Ho.
It was at nearby Virginia Tech where he swam in ACC and NCAA Tournaments. But his time in the pool didn’t end after graduation.
After staying at Tech to work on his Masters and Ph.D, Ho realized, “I could just keep doing what I’m doing and move professional now. So, now here I am in Hong Kong after 15 months of being here and training hard.”
Training hard and getting ready for the biggest stage. And while it could bring on the biggest butterflies, Ho says he’s ready to keep cool and stay afloat.
“Just work hard and shoot for the moon. The worst that could happen is that you land in the stars, am I right?”