By Lance Jordan, Sports Editor
Mladen Senicar, senior, biology, and member of the University of Missouri- St. Louis’s (UMSL) men’s swim team, knew that swimming was something he wanted to do at a very young age. “I started when I was seven or eight and I was pretty good,” he said.
Senicar’s coaches at the time also noticed how gifted he was, even at a young age. “My first early coaches figured out I was talented and put me in some competitions with kids that were three years older than me and I started winning.”
While in high school, Senicar’s vision was to leave his home country of Serbia and he knew that swimming could offer him that chance. “In school I was pretty good. I was an average A (-) B (+) student, but I wasn’t exceptional [enough] to get an academic scholarship to go wherever I wanted. So swimming was one of my only options,” he said.
However, getting to UMSL proved to be a difficult path. “I was doing all the digging,” he said. “I wasn’t [so] good at swimming that all the colleges approached me.”
Senicar started looking at school during his senior year in high school, but would have to wait one more year before attending college in the United States. He ended up being approached by Mars Hill University, located in North Carolina. Speaking about why he choose to leave Mars Hill University, Senicar said, “[The team] started losing a lot of swimmers and they didn’t offer as good a scholarship as they did here [at UMSL]”
Senicar started contacting other colleges, which lead him to Lindenwood University, located in Saint Charles, which as Senicar says, introduced him to head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach, Tomas Kuzvard. “They were like ‘Hey this guy is starting up a new program. It’s a pretty good school, it’s cheap, and it’s in a good area,’” Senicar said.
From there, Senicar found himself at UMSL during the rebuilding process for the swim team. “I was excited and nervous at the same time,” he said, describing his feelings on initially joining the team. “My first month, I was pretty bummed out. I didn’t know why, so I had to pick myself up, enjoy life and give back to the team. That’s how I stayed on the team for 3 years.”
Looking to graduate this May, Senicar posted some of his best times during his career at UMSL this season at the Miami Invitational in Oxford, Ohio. In the 50-yard freestyle he posted a time of 20.82, in the 100-yard freestyle he posted 45.98, and in the 100-yard breaststroke he posted 58.18. As for the rest of the semester, Senicar said, “Pretty much, get in shape for conference and maybe even try to make nationals.”
Outside of swimming, Senicar’s favorite spots to go to include the Delmar Loop and the Galleria Mall. The last concert he attended was at the Pageant for “Schoolboy Q” back in October. The last film he saw was “Deadpool.”
Senicar has filled out the paperwork to pursue his graduate degree here at UMSL. But, if this is his final semester at the university he will miss his team, coach, professors and the staff at the Recreation and Wellness Center (RWC).
To members of his swim team, Senicar leaves behind this advice. “You have to be patient. It doesn’t always go as planned. You have to keep your head up.”