Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

All-First Coast: Swimming; Young Athletes Taking Fastest Lane to Swimming Crowns 'Discipline and Drive' Make Fleming Island Junior Hackett a Champion

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

All-First Coast: Swimming; Young Athletes Taking Fastest Lane to Swimming Crowns 'Discipline and Drive' Make Fleming Island Junior Hackett a Champion

Article excerpt

Byline: Clayton Freeman

Nick Hackett is driven.

"I've been competitive since day one," he said. "Even when I was first riding a bike, I hated that someone would go faster than me and I wanted to get those training wheels off."

That drive - along with three state championships in the pool - has won the 16-year-old Fleming Island junior the title of Times-Union All-First Coast boys swimmer of the year.

"It's the discipline and the drive," Fleming Island swimming coach Jordan Bright said. "He's always the first one to make sure he's getting his sets done properly. He's very meticulous, very driven. He's got this internal motivation that I wish I could clone."

In an exceptionally strong season for Northeast Florida swimming, Hackett brought home two individual trophies and a relay title, helping put Fleming Island on the state's aquatic map.

He won individual state championships in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard freestyle, earning automatic All-American honors with the former time.

And in the relays, he combined with Golden Eagles teammates Drew Heinton, John Hutton and Jack Neeley to bring home a state championship in the 200 free relay and second place in the 400 free relay.

"For years, he's known what he wants to accomplish and how hard he has to work to get there," Bright said.

The Fleming Island team result - second place overall in Class 4A - was special for a program that had never before placed so high in the state meet.

"We've always worked so well together," Hackett said.

But working for victory isn't anything new for Hackett, who started his swimming adventure a decade ago.

"Even when he was seven, eight, nine years old, he was always the kid that was going to outwork everybody around him," Bright said.

Although he's an accomplished champion in both the freestyle and the butterfly, he said the latter stroke is his specialty.

"In fly, I can go all out to my best potential," Hackett said.

He's got the work ethic to get there. Hackett said he's used to swimming three practices a day, a heavy workload even for accomplished swimmers.

"He's going to make a college coach very happy," Bright said.

Down the road, the plan is to slice off even more time - 48 seconds in the 100 fly and 1:37 in the 200 free are his goals for next year - and bring home more gold in 2017.

"I'm definitely hoping to lead the guys to another championship in the 200 free relay," Hackett said. "I'm hoping to get people pumped and ready, and I'm really hoping to go back-to-back in the events I won."

BOYS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR:

NICK HACKETT

FLEMING ISLAND, JUNIOR

Age: 16

Resume: Won Class 4A state championship in 100 fly (48.88) and 200 free (1:39.04)... Alongside Fleming Island teammates Drew Heinton, John Hutton and Jack Neeley, won 200 free relay (1:24.53) and finished second in 400 free relay... Still evaluating college options, including Florida, Alabama and Stanford.

ALL-FIRST COAST SWIMMING

BOYS

FIRST TEAM

Tate Callahan, Atlantic Coast, Sr.

Comment: Class 3A runner-up in 200 and 100 free and helped Stingrays to 200 medley relay victory. …

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