Most college swimming and diving programs are lucky to have one Olympic hopeful every few years. The University of Miami, however, has several, which is considered to be a normal year for this accomplished bunch.
Manon van Rooijen, last year’s Big East Champion in the 100-meter freestyle, won a silver medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. This time around, she is taking the semester off to train with the Dutch National Team in hopes of turning silver into gold.
Head Swimming Coach Mariusz Podkoscielny belives van Rooijen’s relay team is solid enough to beat out the top swimmers in the world.
“I communicate with Manon via email at least once a week,” Podkoscielny said. “It sounds like her training is going very well, and she is being coached by some of the finest minds in swimming.”
Martyna Krawczyk, a sophomore from Poland, will be trying to earn a trip to Athens this summer in the 200-meter breaststroke event. She is a member of the Polish National Team and qualified for the NCAA Championships in March.
Podkoscielny said Krawcyzk has come a long way in her two years at Miami.
“She has done very well this year,” he said. “She is a motivated and focused athlete, which shows up in her training. She is definitely mentally ready for the Olympics and has the talent to do well.”
It is difficult for a swimmer or diver to remain in school when training to compete internationally. Podkoscielny said that most choose to take time off from school, like van Rooijen did.
“With the NCAA rules and the nature of competition, there are limitations as to how much you can work with athletes that are looking to compete out of the country,” he said. “Students have a lot of time constraints, which sometimes forces athletes to take time off.”
Head Diving Coach Randy Ableman, one of the biggest names in diving, has several athletes who could wind up in Athens. Ableman has established a reputation for producing some of the finest divers in the world.
One of Ableman’s prot