This summer, many Wildcats are doing incredible things. They're not taking a vacation—they're completing demanding internships, serving others, continuing to compete in their sports at a high level and more. In the third edition of our Summer Spotlight series, swimming & diving's Renars Bundzis talks about how he's vying for a spot on the Latvian team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
Hey, my name is Renars, and I'm from small country in Europe named Latvia. Latvia has less than two million people and only a few thousand athletes.
As a kid, I saw other athletes go to the United States for college because they got athletic scholarships. By the age of seven, I understood that I wanted to go there some day too. Here, it's impossible to combine professional swimming with studying in university so the opportunity to study over the ocean is every athlete's dream come true. It's a big honor to get out of your small country and live what we call the "American dream."
I totally loved my first year as a Wildcat, and I didn't want to come back home. But, as you know, for a good swimmer the season starts in September and ends in September. There's also one thing I have to do this summer: trial at the Latvian national meet for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
Since I was a kid, I've had a poster on my wall that says: "The Olympic games are 90 percent of the reason why I get up in the morning. The other 10 is because I have to pee." The trials are held in Latvia's capital, Riga, at the end of June, and it's the last meet where you can make a cut for Olympics.
It's easy for Latvians to decide who is going to Olympics. It's really simple because we're a small country with just a few hundred swimmers: the fastest guy and the fastest girl in the country go to Olympics.
This year, thanks to my team, coaches and the hard work I put in the pool and weight room, I got stronger, faster and more experienced. These few weeks leading up to the trials are probably the most important weeks in my life so far. The pressure is high and so are my ambitions.
Right now, I'm working really hard so I can enjoy 16 days of pure happiness knowing that you are with few thousand of the best athletes of all world.
I really want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to my team and coaches, Heidi Voigt, Matt Williams and Milton Braga, and my coach in Latvia, Julia Kuzmina.
Have a great summer, and fight for the green and gold.
Renars Bundzis is a rising sophomore Entrepreneurship major. As a freshman, he competed at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships in the 100- and 200-meter backstrokes.