Nicholas Dworet had made an amazing turnaround in the past 18 months.
He trained hard, focused on his schoolwork and went from a middle-of the-pack swimmer to earning a scholarship to join the University of Indianapolis swim team in the fall, his coach said.
“I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart, he just took his life in his hands and he chiseled and molded his life,” said Andre Bailey, coach of TS Aquatics in Broward County, Fla.
“This kid went from being listless and going through the motions to planning ahead and organizing his life.”
Nicholas, a senior, was among 17 people killed Wednesday, when a former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Bailey told IndyStar on Thursday in a telephone interview.
The shooting happened about 2 p.m. in the school located about 30 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale, according to the Coral Springs Police Department. Police arrested 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled from the school and was armed with an AR-15-style rifle.
Police have not officially confirmed that Dworet was killed, but Bailey said he was with the young man’s family when they got the confirmation Thursday morning.
Nicholas made remarkable improvement, since he joined the TS Aquatics team 18 months ago, Bailey said.
When swimming, Nicholas had a purpose and a focus, Bailey said. Nicholas buckled down, trained and set goals for himself.
“This is a kid who went from middle of the pack last year to to being just lights out,” Bailey said. “He helped put our program on the map.”
Nicholas was a team captain known as the “swim daddy” for the way he helped teammates train and practice.
“Everybody loved him,” Bailey said.
UIndy officials have not yet responded to emails and phone messages. Bailey said he had spoken to UIndy swimming coach Jason Hite just before he called IndyStar Thursday morning.
The TS Aquatics Facebook account posted a photo of him on Jan. 23 after he verbally committed to joining the Greyhounds. Nicholas is seen smiling wide and wearing a UIndy swimming T-shirt in the picture.
“He was an all-around great kid,” Bailey said.
Nicholas also had big dreams for his future. He was planning to study business. Of Swedish heritage, Nicholas had plans to visit Sweden to compete for a chance to swim for its national swim team.
Bailey asked IndyStar to tell the world that Nicholas was a young man with so much promise. He had a full life ahead of him. He was making all the right choices.
His death, Bailey said, is a devastating tragedy.
“Please remind everyone that this young man is the epitome of a kid turning himself around.
“And right as he’s blossoming,” Bailey breathed deeply.
“Of all the bizarre, crazy things, some kid on a Wednesday goes to a school and shoots people.”