March 27, 2004
EAST MEADOW, N.J –
One is a senior who batled the odds to get there. The other is a sophomore who is taking it all in for the first time. While their stories might be different, Florida State University men’s swimmers Wickus Nienaber and Joel Roycik will always remember 2004 NCAA Championships.
The Seminole duo took their last laps of the 2003-04 season on final day of the national summit. Nienaber (Manzini, Swaziland) notched a time of 2:15.91, which converts to 2:01.28, to take 29th in the 200-meter breaststroke. For the sophomore Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.), he last swim of the campaign was a 50.75 (45.47) as he came in 49th in the 100-meter freestyle.
Because it is an Olympic year, the NCAA Championships are being held in short-course meters as opposed to short-course meters.
“Very few swimmers do very well in their first NCAA Championships,” FSU deck boss Neil Harper said. “Joel has never had to taper three times in one year so hopefully he has learned from this experience and can use it to his advantage next year.”
Just being at the event could be considered a victory for Nienaber. Last October he returned home to take part in the All-Africa games. While there he contracted malaria and spent several days in the hospital. The virus kept him out of the pool for several weeks and he wasn’t able to compete in a meet until January.
“Before I was ill I was feeling pretty rough in the water, but afterwards all I wanted to do was get back into the pool and enjoy it,” Nienaber said. “After I had malaria, all I wanted to do was get back for the ACC meet, but then I qualified for the NCAA meet and that just tops everything off. I’m trying to enjoy the whole experience.”
Even though the collegiate season is over, several Seminoles are still in the pool. Nienaber is just one of the many FSU swimmers and divers who will try to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.