Last month, the Olympian debutante Meg Harris won Gold with her Australian swim team in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay event, making a new world record at the 2021 Olympic in Tokyo, Japan. Upon their return home, Deaf Sports Australia arranged for Board member Hannah Britton and Deaflympian Alex Kirchner to host an exclusive interview with Meg Harris. From there, Meg shared her experiences, inspirations, and challenges.
Meg was introduced to swimming by her mum; she took swimming seriously when she was a young girl in Brisbane. After watching the Campbell sisters train and race, Meg became more inspired to get into swimming more. “Watching the other girls swim and watching Emma [McKeon] is just so inspiring.”
Asked about her experience at the Olympic in Tokyo, Meg says that it was a whole new experience. “I don’t remember the race much, like I’m about getting up on the blocks and watching the swimmer come in. But I don’t remember the feeling because it was over and so fast,” said Meg.
Breaking the world record was something that even Meg surprised herself with. “I didn’t even realise that we had the record until about 15 minutes later.” Her teammate Cate affirmed that the world record was 3 minutes 30 and they have just broken it. “I think for me, it was more that than the winning that made [it] everything.”
Some challenges Meg found in her daily life are no stranger to the deaf and hard of hearing communities. Challenges that Meg find in swimming are often the struggle to hearing the starting gun, and communication in her environment. She also found the masks being worn during the pandemic a challenge. “I know I can hear, I can still hear the sound, but for me, it’s also I’m so used to looking at lips and just putting everything together.”
Regardless, Meg has tremendous support from the people she surrounds herself with. “A lot of my coaches use hand signals a lot, so that’s made it easier,” Meg says. She also added that her coach is Dean Boxall, whose famous classic reaction brought a smile to every Australian viewer’s face when one of the Australian swimmers, Titmus, brought home the Gold. Meg said that her team are supportive too. Meg recalls the moment when she and her team were approached by a reporter. “The team are all used to me, and they were so supportive that I had Bronte, who helped me with media.”
Leading up to the Olympic last month, Meg admits that she hasn’t had a break for a couple of years. She even continued to swim right through the COVID pandemic. Meg’s goal is to make the individual swim on the team. She has her eyes set on the 100m freestyle.
Meg has a message for the young deaf and hard of hearing swimmers. “If you want to do something, there’s going to be many people out there that are willing to help you get there. Like, I know growing up but there’s always been people that are just going to treat you the same as everyone else, which is also good, but there’s also people that are willing to go that extra mile for you to help.”