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2013-14 Newcomer of the Year: Nikol Popov

Posted: July 10, 2014 10:26 p.m.
Updated: July 10, 2014 10:26 p.m.

Nikol Popov was a big part of the Vikings run to their first Foothill League title in team history.

It didn’t take long to see something special was happening.

She wasn’t an experienced veteran.

She didn’t carry herself with the poise of a been-there-done-that senior.

She isn’t particularly outgoing, either.

But what she is, is spectacular.

Swimmer Nikol Popov dove into the water this season a fresh-faced freshman; she climbed out as the Santa Clarita Valley’s top athletic newcomer.

What the rest of the valley can now see, though, was clear to those in the swim world a year ago.

As an eighth grader swimming for Canyons Aquatics, Popov would routinely beat her male counterparts.

She is among, if not the, hardest worker the program has.

Her Valencia coach, Chris Stroh, once said that Popov would be fine not working very hard – her talent would carry her to victory.

But, he added, she is great because she refuses to sail it in.

She rarely misses practice.

Rain or shine, Popov is there, ready to swim and perfect her craft.

According to Stroh, while swimming in his Canyons program she went the full year without missing even once.

No obligation is as important as swim, and it shows in the results.

She was as big a part of the Vikings run to their first Foothill League title in team history as any swimmer in the program.

She won a Foothill League title in the 200-yard individual medley, setting a league record with her 2 minute, 2.08 second swim.

She added another victory in the 100-yard breaststroke and was part of the title-winning 200-medley and 200-free relays.

Popov won not one, but two individual CIF-Southern Section Division I titles this season, taking home crowns in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke.

In two years Popov should be far-and-away the valley’s top female swimmer. If it wasn’t for national record setter Abbey Weitzeil at Saugus, Popov already would be.

Thanks to Weitzeil, Popov didn’t’ always get the attention she deserved this season.

But today she does, as The Signal honors freshman Nikol Popov as the 2014 Newcomer of the Year.


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