LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — Lina Khiyara will be an incoming freshman at New Mexico State in the fall and she already has extensive international swimming experience, but nothing will compare to her first appearance in the Olympics. Khiyara will represent Morocco in the 200m freestyle in Tokyo next week.
Khiyara, 18, represented Morocco at the 2019 World Aquatic Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, and the 2019 African Games in Rabat, Morocco. She trained for the Olympics in France and arrived in Tokyo on Saturday. The 200m freestyle prelims will begin early Monday morning on July 26.
“I haven’t really realized it all just yet, but I think it’s going to be a great experience,” said Khiyara. “I took it and it’s a big chance, so, I can’t wait.”
The future Aggie will be competing with some of the best in the sport’s history. Team USA’s Katie Ledecky won gold in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Ledecky will once again be the favorite to win the event in Tokyo.
The magnitude of representing her country in the Olympics and who she will be competing against is something that is hard to block out, but Khiyara is solely focused on her event.
“I think the best thing I can do is to just stay focused on my race and don’t really look at everything around me. I have to really stay focused,” said Khiyara. “If I look outside of my race at everything going on, I won’t be able to concentrate on what I need to do.”
Khiyara’s goal at the Tokyo Olympics is to take it one race at a time. If she is able to come up with a qualifying time in the prelims, Khiyara would advance to Monday night’s semifinal. The 200m freestyle final is scheduled for Tuesday, July 27.
The Tokyo Olympics will air exclusively on KTSM (NBC).