Punahou Student Heading to the Olympics - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Punahou Student Heading to the Olympics

Christel Simms Christel Simms

By Jason Tang

WAIPIO (KHNL) -- Ever since Punahou junior Christel Simms can remember, the Olympics has always been her goal.

Come August, she'll get the chance to compete, and she's excited for the opportunity, even though she won't be representing the red white and blue.

She's like any other 17-year old girl, except Christel Simms is going to the Olympics in Beijing this year.

"My mom had an email out and said 'Christel look at this computer right here, I was like mom does this mean I'm really going to the Olympics this year?' I was just shocked."

Since she was a young girl, Christel's worked hard to compete against the best swimmers in the world.

"My ultimate goal was to go to the Olympics someday, and now the Philippines gave me the chance to finally accomplish that."

Simms chose to compete for the Philippines in order to gain experience, and bypass the lengthy and competitive process it takes to represent the United States.

"I'm going to be not only representing my culture but also my family, and it won't be a big difference to me it's just a great opportunity to be part of that."

Her coach adds that even if Christel is swimming for another country, she's still out there representing the state of Hawaii.

"The great thing about Hawaii is that they do back their athletes, and I think they can take a tremendous amount of pride, it's been a long time since any swimmer has gone for any country to go to the Olympics, I think it's a great thing for her to go and I think the state of Hawaii is going to be behind her all the way," said Scott Sherwood.

And Christel wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's the olympics, it's the biggest dream ever."

So far, Christel's made qualifying time in the 100 meter freestyle, and she's hoping to add other events as the games get closer, she's also the first female to represent the Phillipines in the sport of swimming.

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