By Jenna Masic, Highland High junior
Photos by Shane Marshall
The refreshing splash of cool water when taking that first dive off the blocks, the humid and claustrophobia-inducing room and the everlasting chlorine cologne – to Patrick Nordstrom, this is the best way to start his morning.
Every meet and every practice, Nordstrom endures these things that come with the sport about which he is most passionate. As a 10-year-old taking that first dive into the pool, Nordstrom would never have ever imagined himself standing on a podium eight years later.
That’s exactly where he finds himself today – a Highland record holder and champion swimmer. But it all started out as a simple way to lose weight.
Of all the possible sports he could have chosen, Nordstrom says knowing swimming is a lifelong sport and an entire body workout made the choice easy. His mother, Cindy, never thought Nordstrom would thrive in the sport.
“I always thought he was going to be a baseball player,” Cindy said. “He was for many years, until he was clocked in the face with a pitch. He took to the sport and has never looked back.”
So Nordstrom took a different swing at his sport of choice and as he shaved pounds, he starting shaving off seconds as well until it became clear that this was a sport he was made for. He started on a small club team, but at 13, he began competing for Swim Utah.
Swim Utah is a nonprofit USA swimming club that offers year-round professional coaching and technique instruction for youth of all ages. The spring of 2016 will be Nordstrom’s third year swimming with Swim Utah, and he says he wouldn’t have it any other way. The teammates Nordstrom has on Swim Utah and his Highland team are the people who have inspired him the most.
You will always find Nordstrom stretching the extra length for a win. Breaking the 23-year-old Highland record in the 50-yard freestyle in 2016, breaking the overall 50 free record, and breaking another Highland record, the 100 butterfly, which was held for a couple of years, are some the highlights in his brief career.
Nordstrom went into the state meet with the fastest Class 4A times in the freestyle and butterfly events and then finished fourth in 50 free and second in the 200-yard fly at the state meet. Not only is Nordstrom always stretching for the extra length, his is always found encouraging his teammates. One of his biggest strengths is staying positive during long or boring training sets, such as five sets of 1,000 yards.
Nordstrom has swum in meets all over Utah, and last spring traveled to Austin, Texas for a sectional meet, where he exceeded expectations with all but one personal-best time. In his near future, swimming for Colorado Mesa University will make it possible for Nordstrom to align his academic and athletic pursuits while the financial aid completes the puzzle.
While high school and teen club swimming takes technique and persistence, college will require double the effort. Nordstrom knows what lies ahead and is dedicated to stretch that extra length.
Coaching Nordstrom would be any coach’s dream, and the coaches of Highland and Swim Utah get to live that dream. His skill and focus seem to persistently awe his coaches.
The Highland senior swimmer never fails to show respect and his appreciation for his coaches, and ecstatically speaks on it. Specific targeted training, vast knowledge of technique work, and kindness all play large roles in Nordstrom’s respect for his coaches. These relationships aren’t just a one-sided thing, as his coaches love working with him and seeing him succeed; it’s a real treat, they say.
Outside the pool, Nordstrom pays close attention to his academics. His strong work ethic has helped him clear the cluttered schedule of swimming and earned him a 4.0 GPA. This senior year is when his family has noticed him especially excelling in school.
Taking a step out of the pool, and stepping onto a plane to travel the world is the dream life Nordstrom hopes to fulfill someday. Not only have his parents picked up on his passion for swimming, they have recognized his passion for food and travel.
Ask anyone to describe Nordstrom, the quick response is “social butterfly.” At every meet Nordstrom can be found laughing and talking with just about everyone, including opposing teams. Also, “gracious” and “sportsmanship” are two other key words Nordstrom’s family and friends use to describe him. He is gracious in winning and losing, not only for himself but also for his teammates and even opponents.
“Patrick is ambitious, determined, and confident, attributes that every athlete needs,” teammate Andrew Silver said. “He is humble in victory and graceful in defeat. He is a friend to everyone and I know he will succeed in his endeavors.”
This well-respected athlete and friend is once again the talk of the town after another successful swimming season. He will hopefully begin attending Colorado Mesa University in the fall.
But for now, Nordstrom will make his home in the pool…with a vacation home on top of the podium.
Highland High junior Jenna Masic wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah student journalism program, powered by Bank of American Fork, which will award two of our published student journalists college scholarships at the end of the school year.