Less than a week ago, James Magnussen was speaking to Kenneth To about his life in Hong Kong, the training camp in the US and his dreams of finally being able to swim at an Olympic Games.
Nobody could deny the 26-year-old deserved that honour. Few swimmers had applied themselves with more energy and optimism than To, who moved to Australia with his family when he was a toddler and represented the Dolphins with pride at Youth Olympics, short-course titles and world championships.
The Olympics would evade him and as of January 2017, he moved to the land of his birth in a bid to compete for Hong Kong in the Tokyo 2020 pool. All seemed on course until the tragic news out of Florida that To had died in hospital after falling ill during a warm-up. The cause remains a mystery.
“I was speaking to him last week. That was one of the spooky things. I hadn’t spoken to him for about six months but I was talking to him last week, finding out what it was like over there training in America. That was one of the reasons I couldn’t believe it … I was literally talking to him five days ago,” Magnussen told the Herald.