‘I’ll look back and cherish the moment for the rest of my life’
For every athlete who represents their country, standing on a podium at a major international Games represents an unmatched thrill.
Emma Harvey is one of Bermuda’s newest medal winners after winning a silver and a bronze at the Central American and Caribbean Games, and the young swimmer will never forget the feeling of watching the island’s flag being raised.
“It was a really amazing experience and one of those moments in sport that I’ll look back and cherish for the rest of my life,” Harvey said.
“It was so cool to see all the support and see how happy everybody from Bermuda was.”
Harvey’s silver medal came in the 50 metres backstroke and her emotions changed quickly from disappointment to ecstasy after she looked up at the scoreboard.
“I definitely felt some pressure going into the final but it’s important to be able to perform in those situations, so I’m really glad I had that opportunity to walk away with a silver medal,” Harvey said.
“This has been my first international meet where winning a medal is in the picture and such a proud achievement for me.
“So maybe just after I touched, I wished it had been gold but after going on the podium and doing the medal ceremony, that’s when I felt a lot more proud and cherished the amazing experience.
“After that I just wanted to win another medal and the support from Bermuda was amazing, so it was a little disappointing but hard not to be proud in those moments.”
Despite winning a silver medal, the race went far from smoothly for the 22-year-old, who revealed a poor start left her making up for lost time through the race.
“You can tell when it’s going well,” Harvey said.
“You can’t necessarily tell where you are in the field because it’s normally so close, especially in backstroke, so it’s hard to look to see where you are but you can normally feel in your body that it’s going really well and that particular race I felt great.
“From the nerves, I messed up my start and felt like I was playing catch-up for the whole rest of the 50. Watching the race back on video, it seems like that’s what happened and during the race I knew I had to fight if I was going to still win a medal.
“There are always races where you feel amazing and look up at the scoreboard and it’s gone badly or there are some races where you think it’s gone terribly, like my 100 back the next day, which felt awful but ended up being my best time and I just missed out on a medal.”
Harvey had a packed schedule at the CAC Games, swimming in six finals and finishing top five in every one. She broke two national records and achieved four qualifying times for the Pan American Games, which will be held in Chile in October.
Her bronze medal came in the 50 metres butterfly just after Madelyn Moore finished second in the 50 freestyle, and Harvey feels that having her team-mate competing alongside her helped to calm any anxiety
“For me, it really helps with my nerves,” Harvey said.
“In the 100 freestyle final we were right next to each other. It really helps to look across and see your team-mate and know that they are going to give everything and you are going to give everything. It really helps to calm those nerves and bring you back to the race.”
The CAC Games was the start of a heady few months of international competition for Harvey, with the World Championships in Japan this month and the Pan Am Games following later this year, and the young swimmer knows the competition will become far more intense.
“I have Worlds in a couple of weeks and then Pan Ams,” she said.
“At the Pan Am Games, I am planning to swim in 50 fly, 100 back and 50 free, which was the most recent qualifying time I got last week.
“It’s a much shorter schedule with only three events as opposed to eight, including relays at CAC Games, so I’m really excited and that will be another step up against countries like USA, Canada and Brazil.
That will be incredibly competitive but it will be really exciting to go to those meets and compete my best again there.“
While those events are prestigious in their own right, the Olympic Games are looming large and Harvey makes no secret of her intention to do everything she can to ensure she is representing Bermuda on the grandest stage of all next year.
“I would absolutely love to go to Paris,” she said.
“The Olympics was my childhood dream so I’m going to do everything I possibly can to try to make it there. After 2024, I will still have one more year left of collegiate eligibility because I am not going to compete collegiately next year as I am just going to be training and focusing on trying to make the Olympics.
“I will have one more year of collegiate eligibility left after 2024 and so I plan on using that to get my master’s. I’m pretty sure I will be in the sport for at least the next couple of years and after that we’ll have to make a decision nearer the time to see if I want to keep going for another Olympic cycle.”