FGCU swimming is changing for the better
By Emily Kois
Any transition can be challenging for a student athlete. Coming from a new school or a new country can prove its difficulties, but for FGCU swimmers Wiktoria Czarnecka and Emily Glinecke, the transition has been favorable.
Both athletes are rookies to the swim and dive team at FGCU but have quickly inputted themselves as strong members of the dominant group.
Often times onlookers and fans see the surface of student athletes, not realizing their day to day activities. More so, some don’t understand that the sports they decided to completely change their lives for is the thing that has been the most constant in their life since a young age.
This is true for Emily Glinecke, who previously swam at Arizona State University for two seasons. Now, Glinecke enters her first season with the Eagles and hopes to continue her already successful collegiate career.
“I started swimming when I was five, so it’s been 15 years,” said Emily Glinecke. “I think I kind of felt like swimming was a part of me. I couldn’t imagine not swimming and I have more goals that I want to reach so I wanted to do four more years at the collegiate level.”
Glinecke also shared how she hopes that her swimming doesn’t stop after her four years at the college level.
“I want to make the Olympic trials for 2020 and then hopefully go to Olympic trials if I make it,” said Glinecke. She also explains how she has goals for the team this season, including “being part of a team and sharing the goal of a team to win a conference championship.”
For freshman swimmer Wiktoria Czarnecka, the passion for swimming also came at the young age of six. However, unlike Glinecke she remains open to whatever happens in her swimming career; whether that’s going professional or doing something with her degree.
Yet, both swimmers understand that the professional level is definitely the biggest transition of them all.
“You have to be really fast,” said Glinecke. “A lot of professional swimmers don’t make enough money, and it’s hard to transition. A lot of people quit their college team because they can’t do both and for a lot of people it doesn’t work out.”
Since both swimmers started at such a young age, one would think that each of the athletes would have professionals they’ve looked up to throughout their career.
This is true for Glinecke, however Czarnecka felt the opposite saying that she never had an athlete she looked up to.
“I was coached by Misty Hyman,” said Glinecke. “She went to the Olympics and won a gold medal in the 200 fly. She was my coach my freshman year at ASU and I can say she was my inspiration to keep swimming and to keep working hard.”
With one swimmer being from Poland and the other coming from across the nation, these athletes must have felt extremely confident when choosing FGCU.
Competing at the top level and being the host team for past Olympic swimmers – Evita Leter and Lani Cabrera – FGCU would seem appealing to most swimmers wanting to elevate their skills.
“For me, my brother went to FAU and stayed in the United States and he really wanted me to come here so he said, ‘You’re a swimmer and FGCU has a very good swim team, so we can look to see if they’re interested in you’”, said Czarnecka. “It’s amazing; I’m very grateful to be here.”
Glinecke had no family-ties to FGCU and was more so focused on the luxuries of the campus and the overall improvement she was promised after talking to head coach Dave Rollins.
“First I saw pictures of the school online and I said, ‘There’s no way; this school is this nice,’ but I talked to Dave (the head coach) on the phone and he just sounded like he was really focused on improving the swimmers and not just in the pool but also in the classroom,” said Glinecke. “Then on my trip here I saw it was actually as beautiful as it was in the pictures and everyone was really nice and welcoming.”
Even though both athletes are grateful for the opportunity to attend and swim at such a high collegiate level, transitioning still was a struggle; specifically, for Czarnecka.
“I’m from Poland and came here for college but I still live in Poland,” said Czarnecka. “It’s hard (the transition), I miss my family. But, it’s also very fun to be here – it’s totally different. It’s a lot more fun (swimming in America). The whole team orientation, it’s like ‘we have to win something together’ – it’s not individual. There is a lot of team stuff and team bonding.”
Glinecke also had the same thoughts when comparing her experience thus far at FGCU versus her time at ASU.
“I feel like here our team is a lot closer than any other team I’ve experienced being on,” said Glinecke. “We all have goals and we all want to uplift each other to reach those goals.”
Both athletes explained how they had similar experiences transitioning to Fort Myers. Both mentioning that it was tough, but also extremely easy because of how welcoming the team and students were to them.
“It’s definitely not easy, but they’re so welcoming and friendly so it’s really not hard to make friends,” said Czarnecka. “It’s just all the classes and everything and sometimes for me it’s language so it’s hard, but it’s really fun.”
Glinecke agreed with Czarnecka as she too has made long-time friends with her teammates in such a short period of time.
“It’s easy to make friends with everyone and no one is standoffish because everyone wants to be friends since that will help push us to go faster,” said Glinecke. “I think the transition for me has been easier because I’ve already done two years of college, but everyone’s really welcoming.”
Despite the strong team dynamic, both athletes still face personal challenges with their skills. Like any sport, these ups and downs come with the territory.
Czarnecka, a theatre major, explains that she faces challenges on a daily basis, but understands it comes with the sport.
“Too many. Swimming is so hard,” said Czarnecka. “Sometimes it’s devastating but there are ups and downs, but you just have to keep going. I had a rough year in swimming. I was swimming slow and then I pushed through and it got better and better.”
Glinecke explains that throughout her swimming career there were many trials, but since coming to FGCU is hasn’t been as difficult.
“I’ve had a lot of coaching changes over the past four years,” said Glinecke. “Even in high school, I had a coaching change my senior year of high school and last year and the year before and I didn’t swim well last year. Transitioning to a whole new school wasn’t really hard, but making new friends was. So, when I made the decision to transfer I had to realize that I had to do that all over again. But, it hasn’t been difficult here at all.”
Even though both have promising swimming careers ahead of them at FGCU, both athletes will still rely on their degree. Czarnecka is more understanding of change, while the health major Glinecke has a set plan for her future.
“I think this is my plan right now: to go to grad school for nutrition then possibly become a nutritionist,” said Glinecke. “I think because I’m an athlete I focus a lot on what I eat, and I know that how I eat affects how I perform so I’ve gotten into that and taken a couple courses on nutrition. They don’t have nutrition as a major here, so I picked FGCU to finish out my swimming career and then be able to expand on my career later.”
Many times, change can be good. For FGCU swimmers Glinecke and Czarnecka, both have overcome many challenges and transitions throughout their collegiate career.
However, overcoming these challenges and stepping out of their comfort zone would not have shaped the swimmers they are today.