Name: Ugne Mazutaiyte
Year & Major: Sophomore, MCJ (Public Relations) (Minoring in Japanese language)
Hometown: Kaunas, Lithuania
Mazutaiyte was chosen as our Top Dog of the Week after remaining undefeated in the 200 backstroke this season with a season-best time of 1:59.06 this past weekend when Fresno State hosted a meet with Fresno Pacific, University of Pacific and UC Santa Cruz. After her strong showing, she was also selected as CollegeSwimming.com’s Swimmer of the Week for the Mountain West.
DC: How long have you been swimming?
UM: I’ve been swimming since I was 5 years old. My parents are swimming coaches. My grandparents are swimming coaches. My godfather is a swimming coach. My uncle is a swimmer. Everyone in my family is a swimmer, so it had to happen.
DC: What’s it like living in the States? How has the transition from Lithuania been?
UM: It’s been pretty easy. I’ve been traveling a lot since I was a little girl, so it’s not like I got homesick very much. I did, but it’s not like I was crying all the time.
But it is really different from where I come from because here it’s all about the team. It’s all about team building. It’s all about one goal, one purpose. It’s a really interesting experience. I really like it, and I’m just really glad to be here.
DC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Fresno?
UM: It’s rock climbing. I go to MetalMark, and I love this place so much. It’s a really cool place.
I really like Fresno. You can get in a car for two hours and be at the beach, or an hour and you’re in the most beautiful national parks. You can hike here, go to Shaver Lake.
I like Fresno State. It’s the perfect place to work hard because there are not a lot of temptations. People might say, ‘Oh, there’s not a lot to do.’ Sure, but that’s what I like about it. I come here. I work, study, I sleep, I eat, I go rock climbing and that’s it. I like it. Four years and then I’m free, and I can do whatever I want.
DC: What are your plans after college?
UM: Definitely 2020 Olympics. I would like to go pro for some time because, why not? I just want to travel. I just know what I don’t want. I don’t want to like work in the office or just sit and do nothing. So I’ll definitely try to see the world or travel as much as I can.
DC: Who is your favorite swimmer or athlete?
UM: I would say my friend Rūta [Meilutytė]. She won an Olympic gold in London when she was 15. She is a very good friend of mine. These [Rio] Olympics weren’t that great for her, but that’s what I like about her. She’s not sad about it, and she’s going forward. She’s a big star in Lithuania.
DC: How do you prepare for a meet? Do you have any superstitions?
UM: I listen to music all the time. That’s something that I like to do, is relax. I listen to K-pop (Korean Pop) a lot, artists like Jay Park.
I like to tell myself just to relax, but at the same time I have to be focused – not too much, not too relaxed.
DC: What does it feel like to break records?
UM: You put your name in the history books, and that’s pretty cool. If the record belonged to you, and you’re breaking your own record, it’s just like you’re moving forward. You’re progressing.
I think the best feeling is when you break a very old record. It’s like, ‘Yeah, I did it.’ It’s a great feeling. Just swimming and doing your best is the best feeling in the world.
DC: What does it mean to you to be a Bulldog?
UM: It’s an honor. To be a Bulldog, it means being aggressive, but at the same time staying focused. Not overly aggressive to the point where it’s crazy, but bulldogs are like cool and strong. I think that’s a really cool part about it.