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Hart graduate looking for second NCAA title

Posted: March 14, 2014 10:15 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2014 10:15 p.m.

Hart High graduate Nick Korth swims for UC San Diego and is competing in the NCAA Division II Swim and Dive championships.

 

This wasn’t where Nick Korth thought he’d be when he graduated Hart High School five years ago.

But today, in the midst of the NCAA Division II Swim and Dive championships, there’s no where Korth would rather be.

The fifth-year senior, who still holds Hart High records in the 200 medley relay and 100 breast stroke, attended Division I UC Irvine on an athletic scholarship in 2009, ready to dive into the pool for the Anteaters.

But before he had a chance, the school disbanded the program, and Korth was left without the sport he loved.

“I was at a swim meet when I got the bad news five years ago,” he says. “I didn’t know if that was going to be my last swim meet. I decided to go to Irvine and be a normal college student. I had the opportunity to be a college athlete and it was taken away from me.”

He tried to go without swim, attending classes at UC Irvine, which allowed him to keep the scholarship. But it never felt right, and Korth transferred to Division II UC San Diego.

“I just didn’t feel very good about myself physically and mentally (without swim),” he says. “Swimming gave me some peace and quiet – an outlet to relieve some stress. It was something I was good at. Being a normal average student, there wasn’t anything that set me apart from anyone else.”

Right off the bat at UC San Diego, things clicked.

Korth won the NCAA Division II championship in the 200 breaststroke as a freshman; he holds six top-five finishes at the NCAA championships over his career.

“Some people might say it was remarkable. Some might say it was something special,” Korth says of winning as a freshman. “But I just did everything the coaches had asked of me. I still don’t feel like I earned that title, competing the last two years and coming close but not winning. It’s given me a lot more appreciation for what it was. I’ve had to put in a lot more work than I did the first year.”

And that’s why winning a second title this season would mean so much.

His wild journey has brought him to Geneva, Ohio, where Korth will take to the pool in 100 breaststroke and 50 free, and is looking to add to his title count in the 200 today.

Korth finished third in the 100 with a time of 52.92 seconds. In the 50 free, he finished ninth with a time of 20.23.
He’s come close each of the last two seasons, including last season’s .04 second loss to Eetu Karvonen of Grand Canyon College.

This year, though, Korth expects things to be different. But no matter what happens, he’s glad he had the opportunity to dive back into the pool.

“It’s gone by incredibly quick,” he says. “I won’t remember all the swimming, but I will remember the friends I got to swim with, all the good times I had and the bad times, too. There aren’t many bad times associated with my career. The past four years have been extremely fun for me. I’m going to walk away knowing the team has done a lot more for me than I will ever do for it. Hopefully I’ll be back next year to cheer on my friends.”

He never thought he’d be here.

But now he can’t imagine being anywhere else.

 

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