Arizona State University swimmer Katarina Simonovic will fulfill her Olympic dream this month in Brazil. The 21-year-old Serbian national record holder will swim both the 200- and 400-meter freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where she'll compete on August 7 and 8.
Becoming an Olympic swimmer has been a long journey, she says, “one that I have been working toward for 12 years now."
Simonovic started swimming at a young age after she hurt her knee playing soccer. Her family doctor suggested swimming instead, and since then the sport has been her life. "My whole career has been devoted to the highest goal of making it to the Olympics," she says. "All my friends in high school and college all party and go have fun, but I had to watch them and continue to train.”
Indeed, Simonovic's life in Arizona revolves around time spent in the pool. About 20 hours a week are spent training, and she manages her schoolwork with the help of an academic advisor. A typical day starts with a hot shower, loud music, warm-ups, and then straight to training. The Barrett Honors College senior says she loves sushi (and once competed in a sushi-eating contest) and peanut butter. Beyond the pool, she enjoys painting and attending concerts and music festivals. "I like to read," she says. "I like to go to cooking classes, and spend time with my boyfriend and teammate, Christian Lorenz.”
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The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism student has competed in the World Championships in 2015 and represented ASU at Pac-12 Championships. Unsurprisingly, she hopes to swim her best time at the Olympics and earn a gold medal for her home country, Serbia. (You can keep tabs on how she's doing through her Twitter, @Kat_Simonovic.)
Regardless of her upcoming performance, Simonovic will serve as the captain of the ASU swim team in the upcoming year and plans to use what she learns at the Olympics to help teach her teammates.
The 2016 Rio Olympics will air on NBC. For a complete schedule, see the NBC Olympics website.