Farida Osman, a young girl born to an Egyptian family of dentists, traveled to America to attend college like thousands of Egyptians. What she did not know then, was that a world champion was in the making.
Neither Farida nor her parents imagined that she would one day represent Egypt in world championships and become the third fastest collegiate swimmer in history by .recently winning the individual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title
Currently a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, Osman is following in the footsteps of her parents, who both completed their dental study in the USA.
In Egypt, her journey with the swimming started by chance. "It was a pure coincidence," said Osman, 22. "My brother was learning swimming, and my mother told me to learn to swim with him, so that I would not risk drowning when we get to the sea. I was 4 at the time," Osman recalls.
This 'coincidence' led Farida to "milestones in her life", in her own description of the medals she won, after passing through a large number of tournaments one by one, at a steady pace, to bring that young girl to the world stage.
Osman was able to establish herself in swimming quickly and became the focus of all the coaches. They asked her mother if she could join the swimming team of Gezira Sporting Club. Osman was 8 years old.
The Republic of Egypt Swimming Championship was the first official tournament in which Farida participated at the age of 11. She was able to achieve 5 records and the title of Best Junior Egyptian swimmer.
She then joined the national team, and thereby got the chance to reach African, Arab and international championships, winning gold medals in hundreds of categories in tournaments around the world.
"It was a very nice feeling when I started to represent Egypt abroad and to make gold figures and medals. The first tournament outside Egypt was the African Championship in Algeria. And ever since, I dreamt of the Olympics," said Osman.
The life of the swimming champion in Egypt was limited between Maadi and Zamalek, betwen her school and her favorite sport training coaches. She woke up at 7am every morning, went to the American school in Maadi and finished at 3pm to go directly to her training which ended at 9 pm.
"My day in Egypt was very hard and tiring. I used to get out of my house at 8 in the morning, and return by 9 at night, and then study until I sleep," she said.
The matter seemed tough on Osman and was enough reason to take her decision to complete her studies abroad: "I took the decision to travel to America and attend university there; and indeed my day is much nicer here and not as heavy as all that", she said.
Farida entered the Faculty of Economics at the University of California, and the ease of life there was a key factor in her development and international titles.
Her last victory was a few days ago in the 100-yard butterfly race of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Osman finished in 50.05 seconds, which made her the third fastest female swimmer in the history of the collegiate championship, and the first Egyptian to achieve such a historic figure in swimming.
"I am proud of all the tournaments I have achieved; whether African, Arab or [other] international championships, and the record that I achieved recently in the world is the happiest thing in my life," Farida said.
Osman gives the greatest credit for her success in life to her family: "They were a key supporter of my career, especially my brother, who encouraged me a lot when I was a young swimmer."
"My dream and what I'm looking forward to is [a title at] the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and I intend to prepare for it here in America," she said.
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