(Photo: Alli Cline/WCSN)
It’s a new season, which means it’s another year of jumping into a freezing cold pool everyday at 6:00 A.M. only to stare at a black line for miles. However, Arizona State’s Olympic swimmers Kat Simonovic and Richard Bohus enter the water as different people than a year ago.
Before practice, Bohus swings his arms around to loosen his shoulders without retrains of a cast or brace. Simonovic adjusts her goggles and looks at her left arm to see a new tattoo of the five interlocking Olympic rings.
They are Olympians, and the swim season prior to last summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro marked a very difficult time for both athletes in different respects.
For Bohus, who competed in his first games for Hungary in London four years ago, his afflictions came in a physical form as he simultaneously broke both his left wrist and right arm before the start of last season. These injuries, his second and third in the past three years, kept him from competing until January of 2016, forcing him into a difficult situation.
“I thought maybe I’m going to make the team,” Bohus said. “But never actually like okay obviously ‘I’m going to make the team.’”
On the other hand, Simonovic, the holder of a Serbian national record, faced challenges that manifested themselves mentally as she trudged through her junior season.
“To be honest, I think that was probably the lowest point in my swimming career,” Simonovic said.
So much so that when it came time for her to participate in qualifications in Rome, the swimmer admitted she was readying herself for the “next failure.” Simonovic soon learned that this preparation was in vain as she secured her lane in Rio with a 200-meter freestyle time 0.09 seconds below the standard.
“It was such a hurdle to overcome,” Simonovic said.
Nonetheless, the experience that put her in the very games she missed by such a small margin four years before is not what Simonovic values most. Simonovic said the adveristy she overcame to achieve her goals was her new motivation.
“I think breaking through that barrier of having such a bad college season my junior year was something to be proud of more than qualifying for the Olympics,” Simonovic said.
The months leading up to the Olympics were similarly dramatic for Bohus, but again, in a very different way. After coming back from his injury in the second half of the season, he hit a stride that extended well beyond the length of the pool.
“I tapered seven times in the season,” Bohus said. “Usually, you have one and so, I didn’t really have the chance to train actually. I was always just making myself faster and faster because you have to always taper.”
Under that precedent, he always expects himself to improve no matter the situation. Therefore, it is only fitting Bohus continued to slice away at his time during the Olympics with a personal best time of 48.86 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle.
That attitude has definitely carried over into Bohus’ senior season. The most impressive part is that his drive has not diminished despite the fact he was away from the water for so long.
“It’s good to go away from the pool and get hungry,” Bohus said. “But, this year I didn’t really need that.”
Bohus is ready to conquer a long season. With all the variety of challenging and rewarding experiences he accumulated last year, he plans to achieve success with the help of his teammates.
“I think we are going to do some great things in this season,” Bohus said. “I just can’t wait to swim side by side with my teammates and motivate them.”
Both swimmers have overcome adversity to achieve the highest level in their sport. Both will want to impart their experience on their teammates. Simonovic, who is now the co-captain of the Sun Devil women’s team. Bohus is one of the top sprinters on men’s team. As seniors, both will want to end their Sun Devil swimming career on very high notes.
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