COLUMBIA — Igor Kozlovskij always wanted to get an education in the United States. For him, swimming is a means to that end.
Kozlovskij, a junior on the Missouri swimming team, came from Lithuania. There, he was ranked the 12th best swimmer in the country on collegeswimming.com. Even though his education was always a goal, being away from home was difficult at first.
"The first year I swam well but didn't hit my expectations," Kozlovskij said. "The second year I just blew up, took off, and it was a great year."
Last season, Kozlovskij earned three honorable mention All-America honors at the NCAA Championships.
Along with swimming for the Tigers, Kozlovskij continues to swim for Lithuania. He has been invited to compete in the European Championships in Denmark, which starts on Thursday, and is scheduled to swim the 100 and 200 meter individual medley and 50, 100 and 200 meter breaststroke.
"I've been doing that since I was 15," Kozlovskij said about swimming for the Lithuanian national team. "It's always a pleasure and big honor to swim for the national team."
Kozlovskij says that even though he enjoys swimming for Missouri and Lithuania, the atmosphere in each place is very different.
"Everyone's looking out for themselves," Kozlovskij said of swimming in Lithuania. "I had to train by myself. I was looking for teammates that I could compete with in practice and in meets. It was a big transition."
Kozlovskij's family has not been able to see him swim at Missouri yet, but he hopes they will sometime next season. He plans to continue competing in Europe and, hopefully, make a run at the 2016 Olympics.
"My biggest goal is to make my national team and Olympic team for 2016," Kozlovskij said. "I'm for sure swimming until then, maybe even past that."
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.