Training and studying never clashed in the USA. Over there, I learned to concentrate.

Martina Moravčíková

The biggest contribution of the whole university system in the USA is the fact that it helps to develop sports art, with the athlete not having to worry about missing or not missing training due to school. The system is set up so that athletes can excel in their sport and also academically.

At the University of Tennessee, where I graduated from, newcomers had mandatory study hours. I just had to be in a room with supervision and it had to be quiet there. So I always finished every project.

The entire period of studying helped me with concentration and time management. I learned to allocate time for learning and focused only on the current task. Even now, in my professional life, I can concentrate only on the given task and just do it.

In addition, swimming at universities is at a very high level based on my experience. I swam in a conference that included universities which attended world champions and Olympic medalists. So the level is really high.

Swimming is different from other sports in that the university elite can participate in major sporting events such as the Olympics, which is another plus for swimmers. At the recent games in Tokyo, for example, Caeleb Dressel from the University of Florida swam and Lydia Jacoby started as a high school student, but after the games, she enrolled in the university program.

In the past, the system has produced athletes such as Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, and Katie Ledecky, who studied before becoming professionals. Elite swimmers today also benefit from the fact that athletes can sign sponsorship contracts while studying. The rules of the NCAA are strict in this regard, but recently they have been loosened.

I got to university from a different starting point than most Czech swimmers because I lived in the USA during my high school years. My dad worked in Virginia for NATO, so I prepared for the American university with a high school team with a coach who helped me choose the university, for which I am grateful.

I still keep an eye on university swimming, so I know where the swimming elite is today and where they train. It's important to know how individual programs are set up by the universities because if someone blindly chooses a university, the training program may not fit.

Besides great swimming training, I obtained a degree, an excellent level of English and even better time management through university. These lessons are priceless and I am immensely grateful for them. I would gladly repeat my university years. If I could go back in time, I would probably enjoy it even more. I myself want to lead my children to be able to experience the American university path through sports.

The best thing is that university has brought me an enormous general knowledge. Education in the USA is based on a different principle and approach, so it greatly improved my practical thinking to be able to effectively solve a problem instead of dwelling on theory.