Freshman swimmer already breaking school records

With 36 consecutive conference championship titles, the men’s swimming and diving program is one of the more decorative sports at Oakland University. Freshman Devon Nowicki brings that championship atmosphere to the pool deck, according to head coach Pete Hovland.

“Anytime you have someone with this kind of talent coming out of high school walking on your team it’s a real bonus,” Hovland said. “Championship teams and championship programs need people like that every year.”

In the summer of 2015, Nowicki was Junior National Champion 100-yard breaststroke as well as an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 100-meter breaststroke.

In December the team traveled to Akron, Ohio to compete in their midseason taper meet. Nowicki set a pool or meet record nearly every time he touched the water. He also broke the previous Oakland record in the 100-yard breaststroke. With a time of 53.15, he is ranked in the top-30 in the NCAA.

“He’s already off to a good start,” Hovland said. “Breaking a school record in December of his first year and the guy’s record he broke was a three-time Olympian. That says a lot, getting him adapting and adjusted. We are trying to make him comfortable and confident so he knows what it’s all about.”

Nowicki is very familiar with the Oakland team and the university. Graduating from nearby Lake Orion High School, Nowicki was able to meet the coaches and form a bond with the team before he was enrolled in the university.

“I chose Oakland because it was close and convenient,” Nowicki said. “The coaches and the coaching style are very practiced, 36 conference championships can speak for that. I also really liked how I was able to get to know basically everyone on the team before I even got here.”

Nowicki has been swimming since he was six years old. He has been coached by a former Oakland swimmer and Olympian Chris Sullivan as well as former Oakland swimmer Blaine Dolecetti, who is a volunteer coach on Oakland’s staff now.

“He has a great background in the sport,” Hovland said. “He knows what Oakland is about and what our program is about. We don’t want to overwhelm him, but he has some ways to go and is moving in the right direction.”

Currently, Nowicki is ranked first in the Horizon League for the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and is ranked high in other events. Nowicki said that before his races he doesn’t think about much and tries to stay loose and relaxed.

“During, I guess I try to focus on fundamentals of the stroke, what makes it efficient and what makes it fast,” Nowicki said. “After, look at the place then the time and figure out what I did wrong and what I can fix. Then warm down and process that and then the next day try to get better at it.”

With the season nearing its end and Horizon Leagues and NCAAs quickly approaching, Nowicki, along with the rest of Oakland’s men’s swimming and diving, are preparing to defend their conference title. The Horizon League meet is scheduled to take place Feb. 24-27 at Oakland.

“Don’t sell yourself short,” Nowicki explained. “You can achieve a lot things if you train for it. And if you don’t succeed the first time don’t give up, don’t quit because you failed once. Get up and try again.”