Local swim coach Gyongyver Sovago has come a long way from her native Romania.
Before moving to the United States in her late twenties, Sovago was a nationally-ranked swimmer in Romania. She held a national title for the 100-meter freestyle.
“Even after breaking the record in the 100-meter freestyle I was unable to go to the Olympics for political reasons,” Sovago said.
At the age of 28, Sovago moved to the United States and got a job flipping burgers at McDonalds – a skill she still finds valuable today.
After working in the fast-food industry, the avid swimmer was accepted to UCLA and studied art history and film.
“While I was at UCLA I got a job teaching swimming to the faculty and students,” said Sovago. “That led me to a position in Culver City coaching a competitive swim team.”
It wasn’t long before Sovago was on the road again – this time to Europe. Sovago studied art for a few years in Paris before returning to the San Gabriel Valley.
“When I moved back to San Gabriel I began to explore the swimming scene here,” said Sovago.
The current Pasadena resident discovered that after successful reign in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the San Marino Tsunamis team had been abandoned after a three-year hiatus.
“We reopened the pool in 1993 and built up the team,” said Sovago. “We worked with the city of San Marino’s recreation department and made this a joint venture with them.”
After 18 years as the head coach of the Tsunamis, Sovago and her assistant coach Heather Pearson guide the team every weekday all year long. The team ranks as one of the highest in Southern California and boasts several junior Olympic champions.
While the team is filled for this season, interested swimmers do not need to be from San Marino to join the team. Any level of swimmer can make the team and must pay a fee.
Sovago took time out of her busy schedule to take on the San Marino Six.
What do you like most about San Marino?
What is your favorite restaurant in San Marino?
What is your favorite place in San Marino to take a stroll or go for a run?
I don’t jog but I do enjoy .
What is a little known fact about you?
I like to cook.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
What is the hardest part about coaching the swim team?
When you have a long term vision for a swimmer and they stop competing for whatever reason.