From Ukraine to the U.S.: Marko Khotynetskyi’s journey


Photo Courtesy of OU Athletics

Swimmer Marko Khotynetskyi won Swimmer of the Year in his first season with the Golden Grizzlies

Andrew Bernsdorf, Staff Reporter

Oakland University swimmer Marko Khotynetskyi is currently a sophomore. Originally from Ukraine, Khotynetskyi grew up swimming and studying. 

In his freshman year, Khotynetskyi won six Horizon League titles including: freshman swimmer of the year, Horizon League swimmer of the year and OU athlete of the year. He is a pre business major and has dreams of one day opening his own business here in the U.S. 

Q: Describe the place or places where you grew up. 

A: I grew up in Lviv, Ukraine. Lviv is a fantastic city on the west side of Ukraine that attracts a lot of tourists, but the neighborhood I grew up in was not a nice place to live because of the large amounts of drugs and crime. I was always told to not walk around at night because of the danger that could follow. Unfortunately, a couple of my classmates from school had problems with drugs, and one already died.


Q: What was your life like there?

A: I grew up a pretty normal kid without any problems from the police or any problems with drugs. This is because my mom did everything she could to keep me busy so I was away from all the trouble. My life consisted of swimming, futbol and studying.


Q: Why and how did you leave? Where did you go?

A: Before coming to America, I moved to Kyiv — which is the capital of Ukraine — when I was 14. I moved because of my swimming career. My coaches in Lviv said I needed to go to Kyiv to get better training and to study. I went to get a better coach and improve my swimming. The coach in Kyiv was one of the best in the nation. Kyiv offered me the chance to chase my goal of becoming a fast swimmer.


Q: Why did you come to America?

A: I came to the U.S. and Oakland University because after I finished my studying and training in Kyiv, I wanted to keep training and I wanted to study something else other than swimming and coaching. I wanted to expand away from swimming and I wanted to challenge myself.


Q: How did you feel when you left Ukraine?

A: It was normal to leave because I lived for five years on my own without my mom, so this was normal to me. Even though I was moving to a different part of the world, this was nothing new to me. 


Q:  Describe how your life is different here in the U.S. compared to Ukraine.

A: The lifestyle here is completely different but I am the type of person who can accept it. Some of my friends who also went to the U.S. for school did not make the adjustment and went back to Ukraine after one year. I am more busy here in the U.S. than in Ukraine, I am studying way more and communicating way more between my friends and teammates here in the U.S. I enjoy it and feel as if I am challenged every day.