Without rowing, I would never have gotten to Yale. This way, I am among the elite.

Jan Vacek

I first learned about the possibility of studying in the USA in 2018 after the Junior World Championships, where my partner and I won bronze in the double skiff. Afterwards, coaches from three American universities wrote to me via Messenger to see if I had ever considered the possibility of studying in the USA.

At first, I didn't respond because I was only in my second year of high school. But after about two months, our teachers asked if we were considering studying abroad. Then I finally responded to the coaches from Yale University, Brown University, and Dartmouth College who had contacted me. From then on, we were in contact.

All of the universities bought me a ticket and invited me to come and see how things were done there during my senior year. I had the opportunity to stay at each school for 48 hours and get to know the guys on the team. It was all about finding out which university would suit me best. I chose Yale.

After that, I consulted with the coaches from Yale University on what I needed to do to be accepted. I submitted everything in January 2020. Within two weeks, I received a letter saying that I would probably be accepted. In May, it was official.

The American coaches helped me a lot with my preparation, as it is in their interest to get the rowers they chose admitted to the school. My international high school, Park Lane International School, also helped me prepare for my essays, which was also a great help.

My academic results at high school were slightly above average, but without rowing, I wouldn't have gotten into Yale, as the school attracts the academic elite from around the world. Three-quarters of our team members are international athletes because rowing schools mainly choose students from abroad who have succeeded in major international events.

Due to the intense competition, the level at each university is extremely high. For example, in my team, everyone is extremely tall. With my 192 cm, I am one of the smaller ones. The training is incredibly demanding, but at the same time very satisfying, especially when you succeed at a competition.

You can tell the quality by the results from the training machine. If someone can do two kilometers in under six minutes, they're doing well. In our team, 35 rowers, and half of them can reach the six-minute limit. I'm close to it. I hope to be even better next year. There aren't many rowers in the Czech Republic who can run two kilometers in under six minutes.

If younger rowers are thinking about studying in the USA, I would advise them to keep training hard because it pays off when university coaches notice them. It is also important to constantly improve their English and have relatively good academic results because it goes quickly once they establish contact with universities.

Recently, Martin Vakoč approached me, who will also be attending Yale. I helped him with his application and essays. I'm trying to spread information about studying in the USA and also recommend this path to everyone. It's worth it.

Yale's coaches always ask us for names of rowers at the beginning of the year who are capable of studying here. They even sometimes ask me to write to and approach the promising boys. So I'm a little interested in that.

The training level is really high there because I was able to return to the national team in the summer. I sat down in the national eight right away and now we're training for the world championship.