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Swimmer soaked dad for an Audi TT

Canadian swimmer Samantha King and her Audi TT.

Savannah King

  • Profession: Swimmer
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Born in Scarborough, Ont.; raised in Vernon, B.C.
  • The car: 2001 Audi TT

Notable achievements

  • Member of Canadian national swim team since 2006
  • Won bronze in the 800m freestyle and silver with the freestyle team (4x200m) at the 2007 Pan Am Games
  • Competed in the 2009 World Aquatics Championships in Rome, the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships in California and the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai
  • Competed at both the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics.
  • Kinesiology student at UBC

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  • Representing Canada at the World University Games, the 2013 Summer Universiade, in Kazan, Russia, July 6-17
  • Representing Canada at the 2013 FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, July 19-Aug. 4
  • Aspiring to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio

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Swimmer and UBC student Savannah King is a woman to watch on the world stage.

She's representing Canada at both the upcoming FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, and the World University Games in Kazan, Russia. The two-time Olympian was named Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Female Swimmer of the Year for a second time after winning several medals – including two golds in the 400- and 800-metre freestyle events – at the National Championships in Calgary earlier this year.

Although she didn't win any hardware at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, she didn't walk away empty-handed. King got her first car – 2001 Audi TT – as a gift from her dad, delivering on a childhood promise.

How did you end up with an Audi TT?

I always hung out with my dad and my brother so I was really into cars. When I was really young, my dad bet me that if I ever made the Olympic team he'd buy me an Audi TT. My favourite car was an Audi TT.

After I made my first national team, I went up to him after my race and said, 'You better start saving!'

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After I made the Olympic team in 2008, we went down to Seattle. We were looking at a few dealers and we saw that one. We just knew it was the right one. My dad went down a couple of months later and drove it back up.

He saved a lot of money buying it from a dealer, not brand-new, and going down into the States. People always say to me, 'How could you afford that?' I always say, 'It's probably not that much more than your car right now.'

Did your dad teach you to drive?

Oh, yeah. My car is a standard. It sat there for a while because I was afraid to learn to drive a stick. I was scared to let my dad teach me to drive because I was afraid he was going to yell at me for not being able to do it. I avoided it for a long time because I was having a hard time learning how to drive stick.

And then, finally, he said, 'No, I'm going to come with you and I'm going to teach you!' He said one thing to me and it clicked and I could drive it after that. I should have done that along time ago.

What did he say that made it click?

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He was teaching me to first feel where the clutch gives, where it starts to move. Before you feel that, let the car move a little bit and put it back down to find that sweet spot before I start driving it.

Do you know anything mechanically about it?

Not a lot. It's a quattro – that's about all I know about it.

What's your favourite feature?

Its speed. It's just so much fun to drive. I always drive it way too fast.

Any speeding tickets?

No, actually, knock on wood. I haven't gotten a speeding ticket yet.

Is there anything you don't like about it?

A lot of my friends complain that it's too small. It's really a two-person car, but sometimes I squeeze people in the back.

The other day I had five in it and it's not meant for that many.

What does an Audi TT say about you?

I like to have fun, race, go fast. It's become part of me now. My friends know me as the TT driver. It's become part of my personality.

As a child what initially attracted you to the TT?

I'm not sure – little girl and cute little car. I really liked the look of them, especially the new ones now.

My car's name is Baby Blue – B for short. It's blue on the outside and on the inside. The blue colour represents what I do in my life.

Is this your first car?

Yes. This is my first car – much to my brother's chagrin. He always says, 'How does she get a TT as her first car?'

What sparked your interest in cars?

My dad and my brother. I grew up in northern B.C. and we had a long drive into town. We used to look at all the cars and they used to test me on the cars. They'd see one in the distance, 'What model is that?' And you'd see it for only a second.

That road was famous for having a lot of convoys on it – Mazda Miata convoys and Lamborghini convoys. I was always around cars and my dad and brother loved cars. I was always surrounded by that.

Do you like driving?

I love driving around with my friends, having the windows rolled down in the summer, and having the music cranked!

I always loved road trips with my dad. I love being alone with my dad in the car – we can talk for hours or we can sit in silence or listen to his music.

In 2011, I drove back to Vernon by myself actually. A friend of mine was getting married so I drove to her wedding. It was my first road trip by myself. I got Baby Blue up to speed and onto the highway. I had some alone time with her – that was fun!

Any embarrassing moments behind the wheel?

Bad parallel park jobs or scraping the curb and you go, 'I hope nobody was watching that.' Nothing extreme.

I nicked the side of a car when I was parallel parking when I first got the car. I didn't know it was there. My parents are going to kill me!

This interview has been edited and condensed

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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About the Author

Petrina Gentile is an award-winning automotive journalist - one of the few women who cover cars in Canada. Her life revolves around wheels. She has been writing for the Drive section since 2004. Besides auto reviews, she also interviews celebrities like Norman Jewison, Patrick Dempsey, Rick Hansen, Dean McDermott, Russell Peters, and Ron MacLean for her My Car column. More

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