Radzionau captures lasting memories, personal best in Beijing

By on September 8, 2008

By Whitney Spencer

Before arriving at the University of Louisville, junior  swimmer Andrei Radzionau exchanged e-mails on a fairly regular basis with swim and dive team head coach Arthur Albiero.  One of those e-mails in particular, Radzionau said, is still fresh in his mind.
“It was my dream,” Radzionau said. “Before I came here, Coach Albiero wrote me an e-mail and said ‘We will make [the] Olympic team with you.'”
Radzionau was not a stranger to large stages, taking part in the 2007 World University games and the 2005 World Cup Championships. Even with this extensive international experience, it was but a far cry from Olympic standing.
Radzionau gave little thought to what his coach had written long before.
“I was far away from [the] Olympic cut,” Radzionau said. “I was just laughing from his words.”
Radzionau then guaranteed his spot in the Olympic Games by way of his performances at the Belarus National Championship. He clinched his spot by winning the 50-meter freestyle, while setting a new Belarus national record of 22.72 seconds.
In the Olympics, representing his home country of Belarus, Radzionau swam the 50-free in an even faster 22.65 seconds. While partaking in an experience which very few will ever know, one of Radzionau’s top priorities was to be able to obtain honor for his country.
Transferring from the University of Belarus last spring, Radzionau was relatively unknown. Even with his experience, he admits coming to U of L was a hard transition. Inside the classroom, he struggled to understand all that was thrown his way he said. In the pool, he found comfort in the support of his teammates.
“In Belarus, a big team didn’t support me,” Radzionau said. “Here, 50 or 60 people support you.  It’s so loud and so nice and every person is cheering for you. You feel much better.”
Shortly after arriving, Radzionau received the Big East Swimmer of the Year Award by winning three races at the Big East Championships. He credits his success to the training which takes place in the months prior to competition.
Soon that email Albiero had sent Radzionau did not seem so far-fetched. A week after the national championships, he found out he had qualified for the Olympics. Before the excitement set in, Radzionau knew right away he would need to be ready.
Albiero said he thought Radzionau performed well at the Olympics.
“In the 50 free, which was a bit of a surprise, he swam a great race and improved almost 4/10ths from his best,” Albiero said. “In the 50 free, 4/10ths is a long way to improve. He broke a national record at the other trials and then at the Olympics he was able to swim another couple tenths faster and break it again. To me, that’s a testament to him, his preparation and his ability to stay focused.”
Radzionau didn’t just swim in Beijing though. He made sure to enjoy the sights of such a vibrant country. Pictures and presents were the highlights of what he brought back with him.
Still, Radzionau refuses to just be satisfied with the photos. He has already begun to think about what the future holds for him.
“I can make it one more in London 2012, hopefully,” Radzionau said.  “I don’t know how it is going to be in these four years, I can’t plan for it. I will prepare for Big East and NCAA and then we will see.”

About Michael Kennedy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *