Feb. 1, 2013
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A new feature for the Virginia swimming and diving program, VirginiaSports.com will be sitting down with an alum or alumnae to see what they are up to about life after UVa. First up, class of 2012 graduate David Karasek, who represented Switzerland at the 2012 Olympic Games and broke his own national record in the 200m IM (2:01.35).
On recent activities:
Karasek: Right now, life has been pretty good; I just trained in Charlottesville over Christmas vacation. Now I’m back and working on my master of finance in Madrid, Spain at the IE Business School, a private school. I like it a lot. It’s very hard, if I compare it to UVa, it’s a lot harder and more competitive. Other than (school), I couldn’t live in Spain, as I don’t like it much, especially the swimming. It’s just not the same as the opportunities to swim at UVA for four years. That enthusiasm is missing in Spain. They’re a little lazy and it’s just not as fun. You have to push yourself all the time. There was one guy, Tibo Pierre, who was here one year as an exchange student. He swims with me and that’s a lot of fun, but other than that it’s more difficult than UVa because I don’t have anyone else pushing me.
Reflecting back on the London Olympics:
Karasek: I could talk for a week about this; it was amazing. The swimming part I don’t really remember because I shut down my brain, but I remember seeing my family there, which was great, and seeing all the guys from UVa. We had Katya (Bachrouche), (Matt) McLean, Lauren (Perdue), (Coach) Mark (Bernardino) and then Jim (Bauman, UVa sports psychologist) was there. And Russell (Mark, USA Swimming performance support consultant), who went to UVA, was there as well, so we all took a picture. Yannick Kaeser (freshman at UVa) was there too, which was cool. He swam with me at my club at home in Switzerland. For him, it was down to Ohio State or Virginia, Ohio State because there were other Swiss people there, but I think we showed him a good time. He’s enjoying UVa a lot.
On Olympic performance:
Karasek: They say only 15 percent swim their lifetime-best times (at the Olympics) there so my mindset was I knew a final and a semifinal would be close. I just wanted to do a best time, which I did and I was happy. When you sit there and see all these finals, it just makes you want to do more, so that’s why I still swimming and I want to go again in 2016 if everything works out.
What is next on the agenda:
Karasek: In June I’ll graduate and have my master’s and then I’ll have to do the military because every male Swiss citizen in Switzerland has to serve in the military. There’s a thing called the sports military, which only 10 people a year can do and basically I can train (for swimming) in the morning and be a soldier during the day and train again before bed. It’s a pretty good schedule for five months as opposed to my brother when he did it with the normal military. They had to run a marathon at night when it’s 20 degrees without gloves and stuff like that. So I won’t have to do those drills, which is nice, and they pay me like $5,000 a month. I got in so that will start in November. I’ll have three to four months off in the summer and then I’ll train really well and start that military life. [World Championship] Trials are in March and basically I have to beat a certain time. We don’t have relays because we don’t have enough good swimmers, we might have one in a year or two, but right now we don’t, so you have to beat the time. Yannick is going to win the 200 breast and I’m going to win the 200 IM. Plus we have this guy Dominik Meichtry who’s pretty quick and was sixth in 200 free at the Olympics in Beijing. So it’s a little bit competitive but not like in America. For example, you’re not going for top six to go with a relay; you’re just trying to beat the FINA ‘A’ cut time.
What he misses most about UVa:
Karasek: The team. It makes it so much easier to practice and practice hard. Say you are doing ten 100s and after six or seven you’re a little tired, if one guy says ‘come on, we have three left,’ that’s enough to keep you doing. Or if Mark (Bernardino) yells at you and tells you to keep it up. We don’t hear something like that in Spain, so it makes it very difficult to train hard and push yourself to the next level. This team, they’re my brothers, and that’s what I miss the most, just hanging out with them.