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The Croatian national record holder in the 100 breaststroke, Vanja Rogulj will compete in that event and the 400 medley relay in Beijing. An 11-time All-American for the Cavaliers from 2004-2007, Rogulj won four consecutive ACC titles in the 200 breaststroke and three consecutive ACC titles in the 100 breaststroke. He was the 2005 ACC Swimmer of the Year and the 2004 ACC Freshman of the Year. Already in China, Rogulj talks about his upcoming Olympic experience.

Question: This year you are getting to compete in your third Olympic Games. How does it feel to now be a three-time Olympian?
It feels great, but this time around with a lot less stress since I know the whole field of athletes I will be competing against as well as the intense environment that the Olympic Games provide.

Question: What about your last Olympic experience was memorable?
In all honesty, not much. The sightseeing perhaps. The Sydney Olympics were just much better in every aspect.

Question: What are you most looking forward to this year?
I’m looking to improve on past performances. This whole year has been geared toward this specific moment. And the thing I’m perhaps the most excited about is the 400 medley relay on the last day of the swimming competition.

Question: How does it feel to swim for your home nation of Croatia?
I’m proud I can represent my home country and be a part of our Olympic endeavor. Since we are a small country (4 million people) every one of our successes is our country’s success as well. We have a little over 100 athletes here, while in comparison, India, a country of almost a billion, has only about 50 athletes.

Question: Swimming is a popular event at the Olympics. What do you expect the atmosphere to be like?
Like it is in every Olympics. Heated, loud and stressful! I’ve had an opportunity to swim aside an Australian swimmer in 2000 Olympics in Sydney, with the full stands going wild, but truthfully did not hear any of it until I saw the tape of the race. Swimming is Australia’s best and most popular sport so you can compare that to football in the States, or perhaps soccer in Europe.

Question: Will you get to attend opening ceremonies?
Unfortunately, since my race is always scheduled for the first day of competition I have never been able to go to the opening ceremony. I’m always stuck with watching it on TV, and I can see the fireworks from the window. Two days ago they had a rehearsal and I can tell you they will be incredible.

Question: Are you going to have the opportunity to see any other events in Beijing?
The Croatians are extremely supportive of one another, especially when we stand a chance to medal! I will most likely go to other events since I have a lot of friends here.

Question: Are you looking forward to visiting China? Is there anything in particular you are excited to see?
I have already been in Shanghai in 2006 for the World Championships, so I’m familiar with China and especially with bargaining in the markets. We have a shuttle bus leaving the Olympic Village every day for the Great Wall and another one for Tianamen Square and The Forbidden City, so those are the sights I’ll most likely go and see and the silk market too.

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