As dozens of current and former IU athletes fought to qualify for their first Olympic games, IU graduate Kate Fesenko was busy qualifying for her third Olympiad.
Fesenko qualified for the Ukranian Olympic team this weekend after representing the country at the 2004 games in Athens and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Fesenko participated in the 100-meter butterfly, 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter backstroke in 2008 and is currently a member of the 800-meter freestyle relay team.
“Three Olympic games is impressive in and of itself, so it’s a credit to her longevity, persistence and perseverance more so than anything else,” IU Coach Ray Looze said. “To do anything at this level for this long is not easy, and Kate’s probably a great example of someone who keeps hanging in there, and it’s an honor to see her go to her third Olympics.”
But she wasn’t the only Hoosier to be named to a foreign Olympic team.
Sophomore Dorina Szekeres qualified for the Hungarian Team in the 200-meter backstroke, while senior Nicholas Schwab will swim the 200-meter freestyle for the Dominican Republic.
Szekeres earned her way by winning the 200-meter backstroke at the Hungarian Nationals in April, and Schwab’s qualifying time is from the Indianapolis Grand Prix in March. FINA announced the final cut for the Olympic Games on Sunday, so Szekeres and Schwab learned of their Olympic fates then, Looze said.
Both will be swimming in their first Olympics, but neither is a stranger to international competition.
Fesenko and Schwab have been training with Looze and the team recently while Szekeres has been in Hungary since May to qualify for the Olympics. Looze, currently at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., hailed the work ethic of not only the Olympians, but the team as a whole.
“They and their teammates have been working extremely hard,” Looze said. “This is the best we’ve ever trained at this point of the summer, and I just couldn’t be more pleased with how they have performed and the team here in Omaha. We’re way above the curve, which is really encouraging.”
Szekeres had a trio of top-40 finishes at the European Championships in May, including 17th at the 200-meter backstroke.
Schwab broke the Dominican Republic national record in the 400-meter freestyle at the national championships there last summer and then won three medals at the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championships in Puerto Rico. He earned a gold medal for his career-best performance in the 200-meter individual medley.
Szekeres was born in Hungary, but Schwab only earned citizenship in the Dominican Republic, his mother’s native country, in 2011.
The trio of IU swimmers will join recent graduate Margaux Farrell in the Olympics, as she qualified for the French Olympic team in March as an alternate for the 4x200 freestyle relay team.
Farrell recently left for France, Looze said, and though he won’t be in London for the games, he said the swimmers are all in good hands.
“We’re planning their training and whatnot,” Looze said. “But they all have coaches for their countries that are going to take good care of them, so we’re confident that their needs will be met.”
Swimmers such as junior Cody Miller, sophomore Steve Schmuhl and recent graduate Allysa Vavra competed in the USA Olympic Trials this week. Though they won’t be joining the likes of Farrell or Fesenko in London, Looze is confident they aren’t far from making Olympic appearances.
“I think Cody and Allysa and Steve and all those guys have a chance to, in four years, make an Olympic team,” Looze said. “That’s where we’re at. We’re poised over the next four years that we’ll be in position to put some Americans on the Olympic team in 2016. We should be right at the correct point age-wise and strength-wise to make a good bid.”