By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — In the midst of a 1-7 season, North Tonawanda boys swimming coach Kevin O’Donnell has leaned heavily on one of his leaders — senior Nick Vossler — to keep the team focused and, at times, lighten the mood.
Vossler has been the perfect man for the job.
He swims four events regularly (200 medley relay, 200 individual medley, 100 breast stroke and 400 free relay), giving McDonnell a versatile swimmer that has competed in every race on the board at some point in his career. McDonnell looks to his senior to have a positive impact on the rest of his team.
”Nick is a leader on the team,” he said. “As a senior, his light-hearted and positive attitude serves as a good example to the rest of the team. He has a strong work ethic and is constantly seeking to improve.”
The disappointing season has taken a toll on NT’s spirits, but Vossler always takes it upon himself to lighten up the mood. He’s always quick to tell any of his coaches that will listen that the zombie apocalypse may be coming. “I don’t really believe it would happen but I always tell everybody — be prepared, always be prepared,” Vossler said.
In the pool, Vossler’s demeanor changes. He said that being a competitive swimmer requires a strong mind and an unflappable dedication to training. During the school year student-athletes are forced to manage a number of activities and finding a balance between them is an everyday challenge. Vossler also plays volleyball in the fall and McDonnell said that he’s always impressed with how well Vossler — a member of the National Honors Society — performs in both the pool and the classroom.
”Nick pushes himself to go above and beyond,” McDonnell said. “He puts the work in at practice, but he also takes the time before and after to talk to the coaches about strategy, how to improve his breaststroke and his plans for the zombie apocalypse.”
Vossler has battled asthma since he was a little kid and it continues to flare up every once in a while, but he is never phased by his ailment. McDonnell said his determination as a swimmer is never more evident than when he comes back after sitting out to catch his breath.
Swimming in the relays for the Lumberjacks has been Vossler’s most memorable experience this season. He likes the teamwork aspect to the race and said he feels like everyone pushes each other to be better.
His strongest event is the 200 IM and McDonnell said he’s put in a lot of work to be the team’s threat in a race that most swimmers struggle to master.
Vossler said it’s his mindset that’s allowed him to separate himself from the rest of the pack.
”The 200 IM is like the 200 medley relay, but you’re doing it all yourself,” he said. “I love it and I perform the best at it. I have to put myself in a whole different mindset for the IM than other events. I feel like I’m stronger when I swim that event because not everybody can do all four strokes very efficiently. It works really well with me and I love it. I power through it.”
McDonnell said Vossler is having success because of the work he has put in, and he expects him to continue to perform well for the Jacks.
”Like everything else, (having success in the pool) takes a dedication to improve and a commitment to the sport,” McDonnell said. “The top finishers put 100 percent in at practice and knowing how they train at practice, reflects how they swim at meets.”
North Tonawanda is back in the pool today on the road against Lockport at 5 p.m.Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.