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Episode #8: Vlastic Cerny

September 14, 2020

41:45 minutes


Vlastimil (Vlastic) Cerny has represented two countries in international swimming. Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) and Canada. However, in grade three he was also identified as a talented hockey player through the extensive Czechoslovakia athlete search program, but he had already started swimming, so swimming was it. Now the head coach with Bison Swimming at the University of Manitoba, Vlastic’s road to international competition and coaching did not come without some bumps.

He made the Czechoslovakian Olympic team as an alternate in 1980, he defected in 1982 and was not able to compete in 1984. Of his decision to defect he notes “As soon as I started travel to the Western world, you know, you see different countries. I just knew that the system that we were in, this was not for me . . . for me it was an easy decision [at the time, but] not an easy decision to rationalize after and particularly as I got older, for sure.” He was finally able to compete at the 1988 Olympics for Canada. At the conclusion of his athletic career he transitioned into coaching and has since put athletes on national teams including the 2000 Canadian Olympic team. Currently he coaches Kelsey Wog, who shows great potential in qualifying for the next Olympic summer games.

To hear more about Vlastic’s journey, please listen to Heroes in our Midst, podcast #8.

“It is what it is, the sooner you accept that, then, when the time comes to actually develop a plan for something very concrete, you’re ready to go because you’re not bound by the past.”