Nothing stops Vianney's 'Nick the Quick' from excelling in the pool

Lisa Johnston |

Some top swimmers compete only for their club teams and forego high school competition. But not @NickTheQuick__.

"I enjoy the experience; you can't compare it to club swimming," said St. John Vianney High School's Nick Alexander. "It's a little like college swimming, and it helps build team camaraderie. I'm a big team player."

Last year, Alexander set a state record in the 200-yard individual medley at 1:49.55, beating his nearest competitor by nearly five seconds. He also won a first-place medal in the 100-yard backstroke, matching his win in that event the previous year. He enjoys the high level of excitement and interest that surrounds the state meet.

Last season, Alexander was named an NISCA High School All-American for the second time and the Missouri Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association swimmer of the year last season. He also swims for a club team and recently competed in the Speedo Junior Nationals in San Antonio.

His swimming is refined by hard work. Alexander practices twice each weekday and once on Saturday. He's off on Sunday unless he needs to make up for missing one of the weekday practices. He adds weight training on Tuesday and Thursday.

Alexander started swimming as a way to stay active, and he took to it right away.

"I just loved the feeling of being in the water, going under water, being able to see under water," he said.

He first swam with a summer league team in Shrewsbury, then for Crestwood/Whitecliff. A coach told Alexander's mother that he had a special talent and needed to begin swimming with a club year-round. He joined the Flyers Aquatic Swim Team (FAST) club team around 2005.

Vianney is the right place for him because of its family atmosphere.

"You have that connection," said Alexander, a rising senior. "Everyone is always watching out for one another."

Same with the team atmosphere.

"You always have your teammates with you along the way ... telling you good job, better luck next time or before the race, telling you good luck," said Alexander, who especially likes the team aspect of relays. "It's so exciting. And it's not just pressure on one guy. Everyone has a part."

Alexander relies on his Catholic faith -- which is boosted by going to Vianney -- to stay grounded: "It brings me back to earth and reminds me that at the end of the day I'm more than just a swimmer."

Long term, he'd like to make an Olympic team but realizes that's far off.

"I like to take things step by step usually," he said. "I don't like to look too far ahead."

However, he admitted that last year he had a goal for his finish in state meet, wrote his goals on a piece of paper and taped them to the ceiling in his bedroom. So, every time he went to bed he saw them and every time he woke up he saw them, too. He achieved his goal in the backstroke and just missed his goal in the 200 individual medley.

Having his uncle as swim coach at Vianney also has been a blessing. Bill Alexander also has taught his biology classes; science is his favorite subject. The coach praised the talented athlete for his commitment to swimming. He cited his ability to recover from exertion and push himself beyond what others can do.

As he enters his senior year, Nick the Quick is deciding which five universities to visit on his official visits.

The junior nationals July 30-Aug. 3 started out rough for him, but he rebounded, placed fifth in the 200-meter individual medley and qualified for two events in Olympic trials next summer.

"I had to adjust a little bit, and once I did everything worked out well for me," Alexander said.

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