Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SWIMMER OF THE YEAR - Nick Alexander, Vianney; All-Metro Feature

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SWIMMER OF THE YEAR - Nick Alexander, Vianney; All-Metro Feature

Article excerpt

Every December, Major League Baseball free agents have to start buckling down in the process of deciding where they want the next step of their career to go, and this year is certainly no exception.

Nick Alexander knows the feeling.

The Vianney standout was a high school swimming free agent of sorts this time last year and he had a tough decision to make. Come back for his senior season with the Golden Griffins and defend his state titles in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke, or practice with his club team, Flyers Aquatic Swim Team (FAST), and continue his training for the 2016 Olympic Trials.

"My final decision was really based on coming back to the (Golden Griffins) because I believed the guys on the team could do what they needed to do to accomplish the goals that we had," Alexander said. "We got an individual qualified. It was definitely nice to go with another individual qualifier again."

Indeed, junior Jake Gauvain qualified for state in the 500 freestyle and eight other Golden Griffins were there as well as Vianney qualified also all three of its relay teams. None of the others made it to the second day, but having a chance for them to be there at all meant the world to Alexander and, in turn, they got to witness their teammate accomplish something special.

Not only did Alexander successfully defend his two state titles, but he also broke the state record in each event in both the preliminaries and then again in the finals.

So, coming back meant Alexander left with a rare five state titles, two state records and, because of those accomplishments, his second consecutive nod as the All-Metro Swimmer of the Year.

"I don't know if it's sunk in all the way, but it's definitely kind of hit home," Alexander said. "I've sat down and thought about it every now and then, and it's really great. I'm really blessed to be able to say I've done what I did."

The groundwork for this year's grand finale on the high school stage came not too long after Alexander's phenomenal junior season.

"Last year, after state, we talked about it briefly," said Bill Alexander, Nick's uncle and coach at Vianney. "I understood the situation he was in. There were a lot of factors. There was nothing left to prove. He accomplished every goal you could. He had other big fish to fry with NCAA recruiting and, at that point, he had only qualified for one event in the Olympic Trials, and he wanted to get over the hump on more of those. So, I understood where he was, and I just left him alone for a long time."

After Nick qualified for a second Olympic Trial event, the choice seemed to maybe be a little easier.

"I think that took a lot of pressure off him," Bill said. "One of the factors for him was, were we going to be able to do stuff as a team. You want to go with teammates. …

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