Nowicki scores sixth at NCAA Swimming Championships

Ally Racey

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Horizon League Freshman of the Year Devon Nowicki has broken school and personal records. He earned All-American status as he took sixth place in the 100 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships on March 25. He scored the second-most points in Oakland history — 13.

“Being a freshman and taking down a record was one of my goals from when I signed to swim at Oakland University,” Nowicki wrote in an email. “Coming in with a time that would’ve won the Horizon League Championship the year before, I had some confidence.”

He wrote that what he’s accomplished so far wouldn’t have been possible without the welcoming coaching staff and the teammate support system.

The Lake Orion native made the NCAA Championships because he swam the 100 breaststroke in 52.48 seconds at the Horizon League Championship, which seeded 18th in the NCAA.

With that 18 seed, Nowicki was just two spots away from earning a spot in the NCAA final.

He swam 52.35, which broke his school record by 0.13 seconds. He moved up ten spots to eight place and earned that spot in the final. In the finals, he swam 0.13 seconds faster again, for 52.22.

“Looking up and seeing my name under the sixth-place mark was really gratifying considering I moved up [two] positions from the prelims swim,” Nowicki wrote. “Also I was mostly just happy to have swum in the championship final.”

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Not much goes through Nowicki’s head before a race. He does most of his thinking the day before.

“[I] try to think about things you would talk about to your friends so I would be less nervous as if they were there cheering me on,” he wrote.

Hovland said there’s only six men in the country that have been under 52 seconds in the 100 yard breaststroke.

“I’m real excited [and] I can’t wait to see how he handles it,” Hovland said before the meet.

He also had said Nowicki would be swimming against the best the world has to offer.

“I was mostly worried about the 100 yard breaststroke because it was the best chance I had to place higher than I was seeded,” Nowicki wrote.

Nowicki is the first Oakland swimmer to get top-eight at NCAAs since 2008.

“Walking around on that pool deck was insane,” Nowicki wrote. “Pretty much everywhere you look, there is another massive human being that looks like a brick wall walking toward you. 

He wants to match the physicality of other swimmers.

Nowicki finished 31st in the 200 breaststroke with 1:57.53 to conclude the NCAA Championships.

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Breaking records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke was Nowicki’s first goal. Making at least the top 16 at the NCAA championships was his second goal. 

Getting in the top eight was a pleasant surprise. But he isn’t completely satisfied.

“Even Michael Phelps is still working on his strokes to make them more efficient and faster,” Nowicki wrote.

He wants to develop the strokes he doesn’t swim as often.

Earning an All-American title is really something cool, especially it being my freshman year,” Nowicki wrote. “Receiving that trophy for the first but not the last time, I could tell this is going to be a great next three years of swimming.”

Nowicki’s Olympic trial cut in the 100 breaststroke is late June in Omaha.