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Heart of gold
Chants of stroke echoed throughout John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool possibly louder than they ever have before last Thursday.
Yells werent only coming from the home crowd, but every member of the opposing Marysville-Pilchuck swim team joined as Oak Harbor senior Nicole Nagel pushed herself through the final 25 meters of the 100 butterfly.
It was the most inspirational thing Ive ever seen, Nagels mother, Kari said. It was just wonderful, it brought tears to my eyes.
No, Nagel wasnt leading the race. In fact, she finished nearly five minutes behind the first-place finisher.
Nagel, however, accomplished something in her final high school race not many gave her a shot of doing three years ago.
The senior, who is diagnosed with mild retardation, attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, joined Oak Harbors swim team as a sophomore with no experience.
The first year I got her on the team, she couldnt even swim, Kari Nagel said.
When she touched the wall last Thursday, Nagel erased any doubt anyone ever had about her ability or their own for that matter.
For the first time ever, she competed in, and finished a race considered to have the hardest stroke to learn.
No one can ever say they cant swim the 100 fly now, senior captain Missy McIntyre said.
Others were also wowed by Nagels performance.
For me thats a hard race and Ive been swimming since the sixth grade, senior Danielle Dillard said. For her to come in and only in her third year of swimming do a 100 butterfly is awesome Im very proud of her.
Nagels heart, however, is nothing new to her teammates especially those that have been there with her all along.
Its good to see its not all about competition, its individual improvement, senior Kelsi Franzen said. Its not just about winning, its about seeing yourself improve over the years and shes a perfect example of that.
Nagel didnt qualify for the district meet Nov. 4, but to no ones surprise she will be there in Marysville cheering on her teammates and appropriately so.
She honestly put the team together, shes brought us all together, Dillard said.