Men’s Swimming: Jovanovic ready to start journey as a Wildcat

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

Once upon a time, an impressively tall man from Lake Forest, Ill. found his way to the the Sports Pavillion and Aquatics Center and set the pool on fire.

His name was Matt Grevers, and he became an Olympic gold medalist after spending four years at Northwestern.

Fast forward to 2013. He may not be as tall as Grevers, but freshman Andy Jovanovic is riding a tidal wave of expectations heading into his first year in Evanston. He won four Illinois state titles in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter backstroke, and twice in the 100-meter butterfly.

But nobody told him about the pressure success brings — nor does he care, he said.

“I don’t really get nervous,” the 12th ranked recruit in the nation said. “I guess that comes from how I was trained.”

Jovanovic’s recruitment ended almost ten years ago when he started swimming for the Wildcat Aquatics club team, a group that practices in the same pool as NU’s swimming team. Jovanovic gave his verbal commitment to the Wildcats before other teams were even allowed to talk to him. The combination of being close to home, receiving a great education, and joining a program that produced talented swimmers like Grevers made Jovanovic’s early commitment to the Cats more of a formality than anything.

“For me it was more of just ‘Why not?’” Jovanovic said. “I couldn’t find any reason why I shouldn’t go. The school had everything that I wanted so for me it was just an easy choice.”

The Chicago native said he idolized Grevers growing up. He watched him compete at NU and wanted to do everything the way he did.

“He was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,” Jovanovic said. “He’s one of those role models in USA swimming that a lot of people would want to become. He’s somebody I try to emulate, being a backstroker.”

Coach Jarod Schroeder said he’s thrown a lot at the talented freshman during practice in his first few weeks on campus. If anything, Schroeder noticed that Jovanovic is a little tired.

“We’re probably going to have to pull back on him a little bit in the near future,” Schroeder said. “I want to see what he can handle through these first couple months and then adjust going down from there. But he’s got the right attitude. He doesn’t get discouraged. He’s handling it fine, but I just don’t want to bury him.”

Senior captain Tim Smith said he has already noticed Jovanovic’s early leadership during practice.

“He’s really stepped up and been vocal, especially as a freshman,” Smith said. “Usually they are timid at the beginning. He’s very passionate and dedicated to the team. You can see that right off the bat, and that’s pretty exciting.”

Jovanovic refused to admit setting personal goals to match his idol Grevers, but by the end of his NU career, he hopes to have made a splash.

“Whatever I do in the pool, I want it to be for the team,” he said. “Day in and day out, I want to move the team forward in any way I can. Hopefully, my four years spent here makes the team a better place.”

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