Last year when Yaroslav went to Cal Poly as a freshman he was denied a spot as a walk on. He was not deemed fast enough by the coach. He could have quit; could have made the excuse his shoulder was bothering him and thus he wasn’t fast enough. He persevered however. He swam on the club team and came home for the summer and trained and raced. Here is his story of the outcome.
“This is your favorite Russian, also known as Russian Rocket Scientist.
I was about to send you text, but I figure text is not enough - I have a lot to tell. Last year, when I was about to leave for college, you ask us to write about our experience with swimming. Well, consider this a late assignment. I had some unfinished business to do in world of pre-college swimming.
And I managed to succeed. Yesterday I had my first dual meet as Cal Poly Mustang; we had a lot of fun racing USC.
I am going to be honest, I am not one of the top boys on the team; I do not get spots in relays very often. Yet, there is a lot of work to be done. But the hardest part is over, I have made the team.
(The loud roar you hear is us erupting in joy and congratulations for a hard fought victory!)
I want to tell a little about last year, probably hardest year in my life. I never understood how much I loved swimming and how much I wanted to be part of the team before. Only when I was rejected the opportunity to try out for the team I fully understood how badly I want to make it. I had to become a normal person for some time - and that was not easy. But I decided to give myself a second chance. Not an easy decision, there were many times when I was not sure if I really want to keep going. I recall at least four times when I almost made a decision to stop. The hardest part was uncertainty, until almost the first day of classes I did not know for sure if I make the team or not. It is incredibly hard to work as hard as competitive swimmers do and know that it could be for nothing.
It helps to consider different outcomes; I have made two grand plans for this year: one with me being on the team, and one without swimming. In both cases I have decided to make this year as fun as it can be. I was not sure about swimming, but I was sure I am about to have some great time.
Now, when I made the team, I have to deal with responsibilities of student-athlete. And I am looking forward to the challenge. I love a good challenge.
And I would not be able to face all of that without all the great preparation I got while working with you. Work ethics and dedication are key components of college swimming, and I am glad I had a chance to learn it from you and Ken. Thanks a lot for that.”