July 9, 2012
VALMIERA, Latvia – Prior to arriving in Springfield, Mo. for the Fall semester, Missouri State men’s swimming incoming freshman Uvis Kalnins will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent his country of Latvia at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Kalnins was officially named to the Latvia Olympic squad on Monday (July 9) at a Latvian Olympic Committee (LOC) press conference. The LOC approved a team of 46 athletes participating in 12 different sports. Kalnins is the only male swimmer on the Latvian Olympic team and will compete in just one event: the 100-meter freestyle.
“This is my biggest achievement in my swimming career,” Kalnins described in an email. “I would not have been able to achieve this accomplishment without the support of my parents, friends and my city of Valmiera.”
With his spot locked down, he marks the third Missouri State male swimmer to compete on the sport’s largest stage and follows the likes of former Bears Roberto Bonillo (1994) and Raichin Antonov (2004). MSU record holder Raichin Antonov represented his native country of Bulgaria at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games in both the 50 and 100 free.
Kalnins achieved his Latvia Olympic qualifying standard last summer. Although he held the fastest 100-meter freestyle time (50.18) in Latvia throughout 2011 and 2012, patience was required as he had to wait for a decision from the LOC for almost a year. Unlike the United States who have an Olympic Trials meet, Latvia determines its Olympic squad by the amount of FINA points a swimmer has. With less than a month before the start of the Summer Olympics, his ticket to London finally arrived.
“I got the answer when I was practicing, and in that moment, I couldn’t believe it,” Kalnins said. “In the evening when I called my parents, I was very happy.”
Leading up to London, the incoming freshman will stick to a strict training regimen to prepare for the Olympics. According to Kalnins, he will practice 10 times per week, swimming 4,000-5,000 meters on average, in addition to five dry-land practices per week.
“In 2008, I watched the swimming on TV, but at that time the Olympics were something unreal,” Kalnins added. “It was then when I decided I wanted to get there and with hard work, I am where I am now.”
Schedule for 100-Meter Freestyle (Results)
July 31 – 4:00 a.m. CT – 100-Meter Freestyle Preliminary Heats
July 31 – 1:30 p.m. CT – 100-Meter Freestyle Semifinals
August 1 – 2:17 p.m. CT – 100-Meter Freestyle Final