Exclusive interview with Seychelles’ swimming queen Felicity Passon |25 July 2019
‘I feel so proud to be a Seychellois’
Felicity Passon won seven gold medals, three silver and one bronze at the ongoing 10th Indian Ocean Islands Games in Mauritius and her success is the best ever by any Seychellois athlete at the Games, surpassing the seven gold, one silver and two bronze medals won by Shrone Austin in 2007 in Madagascar. Passon, 20, has since earned the Seychelles’ swimming queen title.
Seychelles NATION got an exclusive with golden girl Passon who is currently in South Korea for the 18th Fina World Masters Championships.
Seychelles NATION: What were your goals before the Games?
Felicity Passon: I really was not expecting to win that many gold medals! I was aiming for three or four gold medals in the backstroke events and that’s it. I told myself that whichever other medals I got I would be really happy. I was also really excited to swim with the Seychelles team again at a competition, as it’s been a while since I’ve been to such Games. So one of my goals was just to enjoy the moment and have fun, which I did!
Seychelles NATION: How are you feeling now after all the medals won?
Felicity Passon: Shocked and still surprised by my performance! And I had not even looked at the records before the Games began. So every time I broke one it was an even bigger surprise. The best feeling by far was standing on the podium and being able to sing our national anthem, because of me! I felt so proud to be a Seychellois. And all the support I got each time I won a medal was insane! I could never have imagined that. So to the Seychellois people, I am forever grateful to you guys!
Seychelles NATION: How did you prepare yourself for the IOIG?
Felicity Passon: Prior to the IOIG, I was in South Africa, for an altitude training camp at the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria. I was being coached under Rocco Meiring.
Seychelles NATION: How did the Seychelles Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association (Socga) and the National Sports Council (NSC) help in that?
Felicity Passon: Socga has assisted me through the International Olympic Committee funding which is mainly geared towards the Olympic Games preparations as well as for African Games whereas the NSC is the one who funded the last training camps at the HPC in Pretoria as part of the IOIG preparations.
Seychelles NATION: What are your next goals?
Felicity Passon: My next goals are to keep training hard to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. In terms of studies, I have now completed two years of my psychology degree in the United States of America.
Seychelles NATION: How did you find the IOIG?
Felicity Passon: I loved it! I had so much fun and met some really, really great people. I am so happy to have made some amazing memories with my friends, family and teammates. This will definitely be the Games that I will never forget. I am so sad that I could not stay to watch the rest of the athletes compete or even celebrate with my team, as three other swimmers and I have travelled to South Korea to take part in the World Championships.
Seychelles NATION: What do you think about the next Games?
Felicity Passon: My plan is to definitely be present for the next IOIG. I will be 24 and I should be at my peak level. So I am really excited for the next one, hopefully I will be able to match my performance from this IOIG.
Seychelles NATION: What is your advice to young swimmers?
Felicity Passon: Swimming is a tough and frustrating sport. It requires a lot of dedication and determination. So my advice to those young swimmers who are passionate about swimming, is to just believe in your dreams. Then work hard to achieve them. Be patient and never give up.
Seychelles NATION: How did your family support you in achieving your dreams?
Felicity Passon: In every way possible. My family has sacrificed so much to get me to where I am. Not just the early morning drives to the pool and the separation to train and study abroad since I was 14 years (especially my younger sister Charlotte whom I miss terribly!). They’ve invested so much in me financially. Most importantly they have helped me out emotionally. As I have said, swimming is such a tough sport physically but also mentally. They have been there for me when I was down. They believed in my dreams and they believed in me. And I am so grateful for that.
Words from Neil Puresh and Lydvine Passon
“After such a great success, the glory should be all Felicity's...But yes, behind this great success there's the all-solid foundation which we helped provide and is definitely needed just like every base of a great society; the family. Swimming is a very gruelling and demanding sport and requires all-round support. This we firmly believe plays a great role and is key to success...Besides the basic support, the very early mornings and late afternoons, special nutrition is only part of what our whole family has to endure besides huge sacrifices! Since swimming is not only a twice-a-day six days' week and almost year-round sport requiring immense time and a pool, hence holidays are almost non-existent. Little time for the swimmers mean assisting thoroughly with managing their annual calendar of events. Big sacrifices financially also as it is an expensive sport for any elite swimmer. The gears, the travels...etc. But above all else, we provide the friendship, the mental and morale support but most importantly unconditional love!”
Interview by Vidya Gappy