Incoming Recruit Swims Beijing Before Cal

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The Cal's men's swimming team received some new talent for the upcoming season, all in thanks to Estonian sophomore Martti Aljand.

Aljand's good friend Martin Liivamagi recently joined the Bears as well as the Estonian national side, where Liivamagi will compete alongside Aljand in the Beijing Olympics.

"My swimming accomplishments so far are quite good, and I'm happy with them, but at the same time I know there is much to learn for me and I can get much better," Liivamagi said in an e-mail. "The accomplishments mean a lot to me, I can't even live without swimming, and that the results have been good, that pushes me to go even further."

Indeed, the incoming freshman reached the semifinals of the 200-meter individual medley at the 2007 World Championships with a time of 2:02:39. At the 2006 European Short-Course Championships, he placed sixth in the 100-meter IM.

Liivamagi finished his 2007 campaign as the 26th-best 200-meter IM swimmer in the world.

"Truly, I myself am a little surprised to be ranked so high in the world last year, but at the same time I know I can be even higher in the rankings," Liivamagi said. "This year it has not been that good, but I will try to change it in the Olympics."

Swimming had always been with Liivamagi. As his parents paved the way, it was only a matter of time before Liivamagi discovered a passion for the sport.

"My parents were also swimmers, and that is how I got into swimming," Liivamagi said. "They didn't make it to the Olympics, so it's also my parents wish to swim there. Both of them had some Estonian records and were Estonian champions, so I had to beat their results and go to the next level."

Even with his timeless accomplishments, the young swimmer didn't always have a successful swim career in mind.

"Until the age of fifteen, I was just having fun in the water and never thought about swimming in the Olympics and to represent Estonia there." Liivamagi said. "After a few good results and some Estonian youth records, my parents and I saw that anything was possible. The idea of swimming in the Olympics came to me when I was eighteen, but still, then it was more a dream then a reality."

As the start of the fall semester quickly approaches, Liivamagi will soon be faced with the challenge of balancing swimming with his studies.

"Hopefully, the years at Cal will be the best years of my life so far," Liivamagi said. "I will try to improve my swimming skills and get better, and also at the same time, will hope to enjoy the life on campus and graduate the economics major."


Contact Kim Zhang at [email protected]

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