MORGANTOWN — It’s rare for a 18-year-old to be the old man of the group, but that’s the case for University High swimmer Griffin Nordstrom.
On a team of 17 between the boys and girls, Nordstrom is the only senior, having been around the block a time or two. Nordstrom is no stranger to how things are done with high school swimming, holding several UHS records.
He earned many of those records with his relay teammates, especially last season. As a junior, Nordstrom was one of the young one, as Karl Wolter, Cullen Shaver and Zack Pell were all seniors.
Now, it’s Nordstrom’s turn to be the leader of an up and coming Hawks squad.
“It’s pretty weird,” he said. “There have never been more than two swimmers on the team from my grade, so I’m kind of used to it, but it’s still strange when I make all the team captain decisions myself.”
Nordstrom has been swimming for about 10 years, which is rare for many to begin that soon. Some swimmers don’t begin until they reach high school age and come out for the team, so Nordstrom has tried to help them get acclimated with competitive swimming.
“I end up helping the newer swimmers a lot with their stroke-work, either as an example or giving critique,” he said.
Of the other swimmers on the team, Nordstrom believes Jacqueline McCutchan is the only other to have experience prior to high school. Even then, McCutchan began in middle school just three years before joining the Hawks.
With the exception of Nordstrom and McCutchan, most of the team had to start from square one.
“Obviously, it’s tough starting any sport from scratch,” Nordstrom said. “But if new swimmers join the club team or participate in other athletic activities, they can still do very well.”
Swimming is a commitment rather than a hobby, according to Nordstrom — you need to dedicate yourself if you want to succeed, and that’s a message he’s trying to get across to his teammates.
“I make sure they know that to do well in it, they need to commit,” he said. “Swimming isn’t a sport where you can leave it for a couple months, come back and be just as good. It requires dedication.”
Head coach Joanna White said Nordstrom has been a model of one thing in particular since he joined the Hawks as a freshman.
“Consistency,” White said. “He has been on the team for four years and he lets others step up into roles they enjoy.”
UHS, as well as Morgantown, will travel to Brooke on Jan. 20, for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference meet.