From the Pool to Ethiopia: Austrian Swimmer Markus Rogan
Photo: Manfred Werner - Tsui
By Sam Scott
Austria native Markus Rogan won two silver medals in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and a fourth-place finish in Beijing in 2008. He is the former world record holder in the 200-meter backstroke and will swim in the 200 individual medley on August 1. Known for his playfulness, Rogan, '04, shows his serious side when it comes to an aid organization he cofounded in Ethiopia. He reports he auctioned off his medals to raise funds to send Ethiopian children to school.
Your Stanford swim coach, Skip Kenney, recently retired. How did his coaching help prepare you to be an Olympian?
Skip made swimming very simple: If you do the work, you'll get the medals. He also found a way to be unforgiving yet compassionate at the same time. What really got me to the Olympics, however, were my teammates.
You've been climbing international medal podiums for 12 years. What has kept you going?
Probably the same as for many others: I love the fame and money, and I have no idea what else to do. (I tried banking for a year, and found it utterly unglamorous.)
Your Wikipedia page says you don’t really like swimming.
I love swimming. I just hate when I forget to not define myself as a person based on [my] performance in the pool.
Your passion has been Tesfaye-MyHope, an organization you co-founded in Ethiopia to help send children to school.
My kids in Ethiopia are not a passion, they're my reality, and an important reminder of how unfair the world is. In exchange for giving me such perspective, I do anything I can to support their education. The most rewarding thing I've ever done is teaching in the middle of the slums, near the library we built together.
What’s in store for you after London?
After London? There is life after the moment you're supposed to be happy ever after?
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Rogan on Twitter @mahrqoos
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