Feature: Markus Rogan
With a sparkle in his eye and a little twinge at the corner of his mouth as a smile sneaks on to his face, Markus Rogan sits in the divers' hot tub after a late January practice. He has helped Stanford own the top ranking in the country and win a few dual meets during his Stanford career. He will most likely be swimming in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, but he refuses to get ahead of himself. His time is now and his focus is on the NCAA Championships. As he thinks about his goals, the boyish grin fades in lieu of a serious furrow. He doesn't just want to win - he needs to win.
Rogan was born in Vienna, Austria, but his family relocated to the United States while he was in school and he finished out his high school career at Mount Vernon High School (just a few miles from Vienna, Virginia in fact). Rogan's decision to come to Stanford has turned out well, as he has excelled academically and athletically.
Stanford has given Rogan the opportunity to experience college life to the fullest - as a student and an athlete. The eight-time All-American is pursuing a degree in economics and political science and is in a fraternity on campus. In 2002, he was awarded the Al Masters Award, given to the top student-athlete at Stanford who exemplifies athletics, academics and leadership. The year before he won the Athletic Department's Block 'S' Award for outstanding male freshman athlete. Rogan has been deeply committed to both aspects of his life at Stanford: 'It sounds good from the outside,' commented Rogan, 'but it's even better on the inside. It's not empty talk.'
Part of Rogan's success on The Farm is due to his inner drive, but the support of the community around him has pushed him even further. And although swimming is an individual sport, the Stanford men's swimming team is a team. They support each other during practice, during races, in classes and throughout life.
Of course, they are friends but they are also rivals. Some of Rogan's top competitors in the nation are the same men he swims next to every day. Competing against the best athletes daily helps Rogan gauge his progress very closely.
'Everything I've done would be impossible without them,' noted Rogan of his teammates. 'I'd be resting on my laurels and they're the reason I can't. They remind me every day that I still have a lot of work to do.'
Most of Rogan's time in the pool is dedicated to improving in the backstroke and the individual medley. Rogan is the defending NCAA Champion in both the 200 back and the 200 IM, but he's not satisfied with his performance. 'I changed my rhythm this season,' said Rogan, 'And I am making sure that I focus on the end instead of developing a new event. I want to be fully prepared for the Pac-10 Championships and then really peak at the NCAA's.'
Doing well in the postseason is important, but for Rogan just being there is no longer enough. After a second place team finish at the NCAA Championships last year, Rogan will not be satisfied with less than best. 'I wouldn't think I'd done my job,' noted Rogan, 'It might be down to the other teams being better but that means we were worse and that we didn't do the work. It's not a question of being second.'
And as a captain of this year's squad, Rogan is invested in making sure this team is in top form. 'There's no option of hiding and letting the team run itself. I have a big stake in the whole team doing well.'
So far, so good for the Cardinal in 2003. But with the postseason fast approaching in March, the final tests will soon be taken.