While many recent UF graduates are entering the work force this summer, one alumnus is preparing himself for the most important 11 days of his swimming career.
This August, Adam Sioui, 26, will compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as a member of the Canadian swim team.
Sioui, who graduated from UF in 2006 with a degree in English, swam for the Gators and Coach Gregg Troy for the four years he spent in Gainesville.
"Adam has a great work ethic and has always been a key member of the team. We've always felt that Adam had Olympic potential," Troy said. "It's good to see him achieve his goals."
Troy, who has coached at UF for the past 10 years, said he has high hopes for Sioui this summer in Beijing.
"I just want him to visualize his potential and realize his talents," Troy said. "He knows the value of working hard, and it shows."
Sioui, a native of Trenton, Ontario, began swimming in his grandparents' pool when he was 9. He later turned his hobby into a lifelong passion.
Sioui has been named an All-American swimmer 14 times and is regarded as one of the best swimmers in Florida. In 2002, he was the SEC 200-yard freestyle champion and captured the title again in 2003.
This year, Sioui set the national record in Canada for the 200-meter butterfly time at the Canada Swimming Trials in Montréal.
In Beijing, he will compete in the 100 and 200 butterfly and the 4x200 freestyle relay.
Sioui has been chasing his Olympic dream for nearly eight years. In 2000, he tried out for the Canadian men's swim team, but missed the opportunity to compete in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games by three-tenths of a second.
"Even though I've had setbacks in my career, I've never lost the dream of competing in the Olympics," he said. "I've been able to persevere, and I'm finally now realizing the goals I set all those years ago."
With his 6-foot-6-inch muscular frame, it would be easy to think that Sioui would not have to make any improvements on his fitness. Sioui, however, said that he spends nearly every day swimming and lifting weights. Training now takes up 25 hours of his week.
And although he aims to eat healthily, Sioui said he makes exceptions.
"I like to treat myself with the occasional entire bag of candy every now and then," he said.
Sioui said that as necessary as physical preparation is, mental preparation is of equal importance. Sioui said he has learned to enjoy his successes more and to forget his failures more easily.
"At the end of the day, this is just a sport," he said. "I've learned to have fun with it more and enjoy my experiences along the way."
While Sioui says he plans to keep swimming a part of his life, he also hopes to further his education after the Olympics and move to New York City.
As far as competing in Beijing, Sioui expressed his feelings quite simply.
"It's a huge, huge honor."