Beer bottles and a public pool – how a 14-year-old Laos swimmer trains for Rio


On one side of the cramped outdoor pool, children are taking swimming lessons. Opposite, another group of kids riotously splash around. In the middle, a teenager is desperately trying to train for the Rio Olympics.

Conditions are hardly ideal for Siri Budcharern Arun, one of just 5 athletes from the poor, communist state of Laos traveling to Brazil.

She will arrive as a rank outsider in the 50 meter freestyle, hailing from a Southeast Asian country which has few sporting heroes, and none known beyond its landlocked borders.

It does not help that she is training in a 25m public pool – half the size of an Olympic pool – whose deck is strewn with empty beer bottles from parties the night before.

“I am very proud,” the 14-year-old told AFP, goggles in hand and catching her breath after a training session at the pool in the capital Vientiane.

“We may not be a big country but I want the world to know that we do have swimmers,” she added.

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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