Ithaca High’s Ryan Nicholson was the star Saturday morning at the Section 4 Class A boys swimming championships at Owego Free Academy, and even as a junior might have cemented his status as the best all-around swimmer in Section 4 history.
Nicholson set Section 4 records in the 200-yard individual medley (1:53.75) and 100 freestyle (45.97), in addition to helping Ithaca to victories in the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.
“I felt good,” he said. “I swim fast when I really get pumped up and when people get me excited and when I have a race.”
Nicholson has section records in six of 11 swimming events, adding Saturday to previous marks in the 200 freestyle (1:42.18) and 100 butterfly (50.15). He is also part of the two fastest freestyle relay teams in Section 4 history and has qualified for the New York state championships this season in every event except the 100 breaststroke, which he did not swim.
“He’s just that type of athlete,” Ithaca coach Mike Blakely-Armitage said. “You put him in any event and he swims really well. At the high school level and club level, he’s phenomenal.”
Nicholson’s effort helped the Little Red claim its third section title in four seasons and second in a row. Ithaca finished with 541 points, nearly 200 points ahead of runner-up Corning (346) in the seven-team meet.
“We did really well,” Nicholson said. “We showed up and we lived up to our expectations.”
Kevin Miller of Ithaca won the 500 freestyle in a state meet-qualifying time of 4:50.07; he also finished second in the 200 free (1:47.21), behind Horseheads’ Mike Klugo (1:44.43). Both met the state qualifying standard.
Miller also qualified as a member of Ithaca’s 400 freestyle relay team, including Francis Schickel, Dave Miller and Will Fisher, that qualified for states with a time of 3:16.02.
Nicholson broke former teammate John Nord’s two-year-old Section 4 record in the IM with his effort of 1:53.75. He won the 100 free in 45.97, breaking the 1983 sectional record by Kevin Nagy of Horseheads. Five swimmers eclipsed the state standard of 48.94 in that race, including Fisher (48.81).
“I was really happy because I’m not really tapered for this meet or rested, and I haven’t shaved,” Nicholson said. “So I was happy with my swims. I dropped like a second in my 200 IM and half a second in my 100 free. And I think I’m first in both of them in the state.”
Nicholson finished second in the 100 butterfly at last year’s state meet, but he did not swim that event Saturday. He will swim in the butterfly at states, along with the individual medley and both freestyle relays.
Eight Ithaca swimmers will compete at the state meet March 1-2 in Rochester.
* LANSING WINS: At Owego, Lansing scored 391 points to edge Waverly (370) and Watkins Glen (329) for the title in the eight-team meet. Southern Cayuga (184) finished sixth, followed by Odessa-Montour (123) and Dryden (120).
Lansing got victories from its 200 medley relay (Ronan Corgel, Joe Koch, John Koch, Kyle Vandepoel); Joe Koch in the 200 freestyle (1:46.97, state qualifier) and 500 free (4:46.59, state qualifier); Corgel in the 200 IM (2:00.07, state qualifier) and 100 backstroke (53.30, state qualifier); and John Koch in the 100 butterfly.