Senior Spotlight: Ivan Perhat

Feb. 13, 2008

When Ivan Perhat looks back on his four years at the University of Washington he has many fond memories - that is until he thinks about all the rain here in Seattle.

Perhat choose the UW back in the spring of 2004 when he was a senior at San Pedro High School, which lies just south of Los Angeles on the Los Angeles Harbor.

'It was a combination of my decision and my parents,' said Perhat on why he chose Washington. 'I really felt this school was the right place for me, along with the chemistry that the team provided. We decided it would probably be the best place for me to go.

'Other than the rain, it's been pretty good here,' Perhat said with a smile. 'I wanted to get away from home and enjoy my four years here and I really have.'

Coming from the sun-filled skies of southern California to the cold and wet winter days of Seattle wasn't the only adjustment Perhat had to make. The training that he was used to at San Pedro High School didn't compare to the tenacity of the training at the collegiate level.

'I was a little scared,' commented Perhat about his first days with the swimming team in the fall of 2004. 'Coming into a college program they trained really hard and I wasn't used to it.'

The level of training has only intensified under second-year coaches Whitney Hite and Tommy Hannan, who along with the other coaches, demand a lot from their swimmers. Both Hite, the head coach, and Hannan, an assistant, know what it takes for swimmers to become national champions. Hite was an assistant coach on the Georgia women's team that won three straight national titles from 1999-2001, while Hannan won three team titles while swimming at Texas (2000-02) and also won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympic games as a member of the U.S. 400 medley relay team.

'It's been hard, and that word does not come close to defining what it's been like the last year and a half for me,' said Perhat about his training under Hite and Hannan. 'Last year it was going from hard training to even harder training and I had a lot of trouble with that.

'Still, my best times have come from it and their help. This year I've been getting a lot better, especially after I stayed and trained with them this summer.'

Under Hite and Hannan's tutelage, Perhat has managed to swim the second-fastest times in Husky swimming history in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. Both times (a 20.07 in the 50 free and a 44.24 in the 100 free) came back in November at the Husky Invitational.

'His training methods are definitely working,' said Perhat referring to Hite. 'He has a goal and that's to make the whole team better and he's doing that. He's getting to the point where he's going to have a top fifteen, if not even a top ten, nationally ranked team in the next couple of years.'

When the Pac-10 Championships are held in early March, Perhat has a few goals in mind. Not only does he want to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time in his career, but he also wants the Husky men to finish fourth place or higher at the Pac-10s, something the team has never done since they became a part of the conference in the 1978-79 season.

Perhat's top times in the 50 and 100 freestyle events rank 11th and 13th-best, respectfully, in the Pac-10 this season, and both times are NCAA 'B' qualifying times, which means he has a good shot at competing at the NCAA Championships in Federal Way, March 27-29.

Perhat is on track to graduate in June with a degree in earth and space sciences and plans to return to the Los Angeles area to train for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Depending on how swims there, Perhat could join the Croatian National Team for the Olympic games in August in Beijing, China.

Perhat was born in Croatia, but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was seven to escape the civil war in his homeland. He has dual citizenship, which would allow him to swim for either the U.S. team or the Croatian team. Right now, though, Perhat has his sights set on swimming for his native country in the 4x100 relay at the Olympics.

If Perhat continues to shine in the pool as he has in his senior season, there is a good chance he could become the first Husky to swim in international competition since Bruno Barbic swam at the World Championships in 2004.

First up, though, Perhat and the Huskies swim at the Pac-10 Championships on March 5-8, in Long Beach, Calif., which will give his family in the area an opportunity to see him compete.

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