By: Martyce Kimbrough
From sleeping outside the night before taking the SAT, to being hit by a car, to shattering record after record, Senior Janko Radmanovic has had a stellar career on the University of Findlay men’s swimming and diving team.
Radmanovic started swimming at three years old when a doctor suggested to his parents that he should swim after seeing how flat-footed he was.
“Our family didn’t really have much of a sports background,” said Radmanovic. “I didn’t start getting pretty good until high school. I won Serbian nationals and joined the Serbian national team, and, from there, everything spiraled up.”
After competing so well in high school, Radmanovic really started to see his journey take off, literally. After high school, he took a year off and traveled to Cyprus, an island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, to train while also coaching to make money for himself.
While in Cyprus, Radmanovic planned to take the SAT at 7:00 a.m. and, with no morning bus being ran, the young athlete was forced to make a decision.
“I slept on the street the night before,” said Radmanovic. “There was no morning bus so I got to the building the night before and slept outside on a bench. It was tough to take the test the next morning, but I kept telling myself in my mind, ‘I have to do this’ so I was able to get it done.”
That self-determination and discipline would be the same traits that helped Radmanovic get a collegiate scholarship in America to continue his swimming career.
He explains he would use Google while learning to speak English in anticipation of competing in America. After emailing back and forth with over 30 colleges, five of the universities offered him a scholarship. Among Universities like Arizona State, Drexel, and Philadelphia, Radmanovic would choose the University of Findlay.
“Part of my reason for coming here was it was the best situation for me financially,” said Radmanovic. “I also chose Findlay because I knew Todo Djurovic, a swimmer here who was also from Serbia.”
Djurovic was a record setting UF swimming and diving team member from 2013-2015.
Success came very quickly to Radmanovic during his freshman season. After the completion of his first season, the newcomer was named an All-American in the 200 yard butterfly. He also set school records in the 100 yard freestyle, 200 yard freestyle, 500 yard freestyle, 100 yard butterfly, 200 yard butterfly, and also the 800 yard freestyle relay.
With success and accolades pouring in his freshman season, Radmanovic wanted to continue to work hard and continue his individual and team success for his sophomore season.
“I just trained and trained and trained and trained,” said Radmanovic. “I worked extremely hard my sophomore year and I wanted to win nationals.”
Just before he had the opportunity to make the goal become a reality, Radmanovic was hit by a car while he was walking. Without any serious injuries, he was still able to participate in the national meet. Not only did he compete, but he was able to earn third place.
Although Radmanovic gained early personal success and accolades, he also had to adjust to American culture in the pool to become a better teammate as well as a better swimmer.
“I expected the hard work, but the emotional aspect was something that I never thought about,” said Radmanovic. “Even if you look at the Olympics, during the races and interviews, the United States team members always talk about team work and cheering each other on. It was a culture shock to me at first but now I always try to cheer my teammates on.”
His efforts in and out of the pool have caught the attention of his teammates and coaches as well.
UF Sophomore Swimmer Olivia Wile notices the improvements that Radmanovic has made over the years.
“His senior leadership has definitley kicked in,” explained Wile, “and I also think he does a good job of leading by example.”
The seniors’ non-verbal leadership is one thing in particular that impresses Wile.
“When it’s so easy to win everything, it seems like it could be easy to back down and not give your best effort,” said Wile. “But he still gives it everything he’s got even though he may know at our duel meets he is going to win everything.”
Radmanovic’s hard work has made its’ way from the pool to the classroom as well. He is a graphic design major and is currently the designer of the Pulse, the school newspaper at UF.
“My dream is to draw comic books. That’s my ultimate goal,” said Radmanovic. “I have always done a lot of research and drawings over various topics throughout my life, so that is what I’d like to do.”
Radmanovic’s passion for graphic design has not gone unnoticed. Professor of Communication and Pulse Advisor Amy Rogan is impressed with the determination of Radmanovic.
“Janko’s focus on his post-graduation career really impressed me,” said Rogan. “We sat down and talked recently and he’s very passionate about life after school and his career. He seems to want to do things now that will benefit him in the long run. In our brief work together, I’ve seen a talented artist with a ‘quick’ eye for design.”
Radmanovic is unsure on where he wants to reside after his graduation, but having his own clients and doing business through graphic design is what he sees for himself in the near future.
“I still have to complete one more year after this one,” said Radmanovic. “During that year I want to gain as many clients as possible and right after I graduate I want to have those clients so I can freelance and do graphic design for them in things such as printing and branding.”
Radmanovic just recently topped off this season with a second place finish in the 200 yard butterfly at the NCAA Division II National Championship swim meet, along with being named GMAC Swimmer of the Week five times and setting several new records. His time of 1:43.15 makes him roughly the fourth fastest 200 butterfly swimmer in Division II swimming history.