Suriname, a small country in South America whose population is a little over 500,000, has had only one athlete who has won an Olympic medal.
It was a swimmer. Anthony Nesty, now a coach at the University of Florida, won a gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly in Seoul in 1988 and a bronze medal in 1992.
Soccer is still a more popular sport in the country. But two of Suriname's five Olympic athletes this summer were swimmers.
They are brother and sister Diguan and Chinyere Pigot. Chinyere, who also went to Beijing in 2008 at age 14, got to carry the country's flag in the Opening Ceremonies in London.
But now the summer is over. London is but a memory. Fall swim training has started in earnest. On Thursday, Chinyere, a sophomore, and Diguan, a freshman, were churning out laps at practice at the Wolff-Zackin Natatorium as members of UConn's swim team.
Last year, Chinyere set the school record (23.19) in the 50-yard freestyle, finishing tied for third at the Big East championships. She also holds the school record in the 100 free.
"Janelle [Atkinson-Wignall] is our assistant and she is from Jamaica and has a lot of Caribbean connections," UConn coach Bob Goldberg said. "Chin was in Miami looking for a school, one thing led to another, we got her up for a visit and didn't think she'd come because of the cold north weather but she did end up coming. She's a delight to have. Diguan came up last year [for a visit]. We feel very fortunate to have them here."
Growing up in Suriname, the Pigots started to swim at ages 4 and 5.
"Our parents put us in swimming because we had too much energy when we were little," Chinyere said.
"We liked water," Diguan said. "It looked like something that would keep you fit for the rest of your life. It was a good choice."
They did try other sports.
"My mom tried to put us in other sports but I'm not good at them," Chinyere said.
"We did karate," Diguan said. "We did judo, track and field, cross country."
"I hated it all," Chinyere said.
"I liked karate a lot," Diguan said. "But when we started showing improvement in swimming … it just takes up so much of your time. We had no time for other sports."
They moved to Miami in 2006 when their mother, Inge, got a job with the Suriname consulate. Their father still lives in Suriname and goes back and forth between the two countries. Chinyere and Diguan both swam at Doral (Fla.) Academy. Both were state champions. Diguan was the Miami Herald's Swimmer of the Year last year.
Chinyere had a friend from Florida who went to UConn. She liked the business school and decided to visit and then decided to come to Storrs.
"I don't know if I like the weather yet," she said. "I'm still adjusting to it. I like the snow. But it can get cold. I just like the team mostly."
"I was recommended here by my sister," Diguan said. "I also looked up their engineering program, which is top 10 in the nation. It's not a big swimming school, but I saw the team as an opportunity for me to grow more and improve."
In London, Chinyere did not swim as well as she would have liked. She finished third in her heat in 26.30 but only the top two advanced.
"Since I wasn't that happy with my swim this Olympics, every practice, when I get tired or I feel like giving up, I think, next Olympics, you're not going to get there if you give up now," Chinyere said.
Diguan also finished third in his heat in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:05.55).
"I learned how to deal with a lot of pressure," Diguan said. "When I was there, behind the blocks, it was so much pressure on me. My swim was OK. I could have done better. It was just that the situation was new and I was trying to adjust to it."
"I know he was nervous," Chinyere said. "I was nervous for him. He did good for a first-timer, with all the pressure. It was a good experience."
And now they are here in Storrs, working toward Big East glory, working toward the next Olympics.
"One of my big dreams is to have a medal at the next Olympics," Diguan said. "It's a tough challenge, but that's what life's for, to be challenged."