The MMS program doesn’t just admit some of the smartest people in the world. It attracts some of the world’s best athletes, too. I don’t fall into that category, but as a former reporter at Syracuse University, I covered people who did.
This year’s MMS class is exceptional in its physical pursuits. Top male and female lacrosse and soccer players, former Division I basketball, tennis, track and field stars, a world-ranked skier, marathon runners, and hopefully, an Olympic swimmer.
During his undergraduate years, Piotr Safronczyk swam at the University of Bridgeport, where he won the NCAA Division II championship for the 100-meter breaststroke. Now at Duke, Piotr has broken ACC records in the same event. He has yet to lose an individual event since moving to the United States in 2009.
Piotr might get the best of his opponents in the pool, but he is an even better person outside of it. He is one of my closest friends in the MMS program. Piotr hangs out with his peers during his limited free time and goes out of his way to pick up his classmates (myself included) for MMS team meetings. For someone of his stature, he displays a sense of humility, rarely pumping his chest for his accolades.
“I’ve made some great relationships with people in this program,” Piotr says. “The MMS students aren’t average. These are exceptional individuals. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table.”
The least we can do to show him our appreciation is attend one of his meets and cheer him on with full energy. I finally did just that when Duke held a swim meet against the University of Virginia at Duke’s Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion. A group of MMS students and I proudly hoisted a “Poland’s Finest” poster. Piotr did not disappoint. He won every individual and team event he participated in.
Despite his hectic practice schedule, Piotr still finds ways to excel in the classroom because of his time management. In less than three years, he has quickly grasped the fundamentals of the English language. Furthermore, he is a master at managing team dynamics and even better at using Microsoft Office, frequently teaching other students.
“I give credit to my fellow classmates for putting up with my English-speaking skills and helping me learn the material,” Piotr says. “Everybody is very selfless, so I feel like I need to return the favor.”
And he intends to return the favor not only to his classmates, but to his home country. Piotr hopes to compete for Poland in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He will race in the Olympic qualifiers following his graduation from the MMS program in late May.
To Piotr: From all of us at Fuqua, we wish you the best of luck at the ACC Championships this Wednesday, and all the best in training for the Olympic qualifiers!