Rising-star Samantha Britton is preparing to jet off to the Philippines to compete on the international stage.
The 12-year-old, who is British Filipino, will represent Havant & Waterlooville Swimming Club at the 7th Iloilo Dinagyang National Age-Group Swimfest.
It’s the first time a swimmer from a club outside of the Philippines has taken part in the event.
She will also be the first British Filipino to line up on the blocks, in what is a hugely prestigious competition.
In addition to the swimming, Britton, who lives in Horndean, will also get the chance to meet members of her family for the first time.
They will be present to cheer her on at the swimfest – which is part of the Dinagyang Festival, where people from all the Philippines islands gather for a great spectacle of tribal cultural dance.
While she’s away, Britton, whose mum Hazel is from the Philippines, will also be doing a school project about her trip and has already been doing research.
She said: ‘I have been doing some stuff about the Philippines in geography and getting myself psyched up.
‘For me, it is such an honour to be given the chance to swim in the festival.
‘To have the chance to experience this is really exciting.
‘I will be swimming butterfly, freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke.
‘Butterfly is my favourite event. I have done 50m, 100m and 200m. I like 50m and 100m.
‘Now I want to get more 200m swims done.’
Britton, who attends Horndean Technology College, trains five days a week.
She is hoping to achieve county times in the coming months.
Beyond that, she dreams of one day competing in the Olympics.
For her, the swimming festival – on January 24 & 25 – will be a valuable chance to taste the atmosphere of a big swim meet.
With the British Amateur Swimming Association giving her international clearance to compete, it means her times will count if she achieves county standard.
Britton added: ‘I am hoping to get closer to my county times for the 12-year age group.
‘If you have a county time, it means you go to the county event in March.
‘Swimming long course is better for butterfly swimmers so it will be good to do that.
‘I’d like to go to the 2020 Olympics. I know I have to work hard.’
Not only will Britton be competing but she will also get the chance to train with the Iloilo Sea Warriors Swimming Club.
Dad Karl feels the whole experience will be one for the family to treasure.
He said: ‘To be invited to swim with the club that is organising the festival is a big honour for Samantha.
‘It will be a fantastic experience for her.
‘She will be representing Havant & Waterlooville – wearing the club kit but probably not the hoodie. I don’t think she will be needing that!’