Our first alumni profile is on Nick Early class of 1998. Nick swam on the Red Wing boys swim team from 1992 to 1998 and is a former captain, multi-time state champion, all-american, and school record-holder for Red Wing. He is currently living in Chicago, IL and is a professional triathelete along with working as a civilian contractor with the US Navy. He is the lead Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the BUD/S prep program where he trains Navy SEAL recruits to be better swimmers. Check out nickearly.blogspot.com or his twitter account @nearlytri to keep up with Nick on his career as a professional triathlete.
1. What years were you a part of the Red Wing team and who were your coaches?
started with the team in the 7th grade and graduated in 1998. All 6 years the head coach was Charlie Nelson. Todd Walsh was the Assistant and Don Featherstone was the Diving coach.
2. Give us a little background on your swimming career. (Awards, honors, etc…)
I first started swimming with the Local USS program when I was 8. At the time the YMCA had a swim program. So in the summers I swam with the USS Team and the
winters I swam with the Y. Once I started 7th grade I swam high school in the winter months. In 8th grade I started swimming with the Hastings Area Swim Team as they had experience sending swimmers to Junior Nationals (for swimmers 19 and under) and I wanted to qualify and swim at the national competition. I was a five time conference champion, a 5 time state champion, 4 time All-American swimmer and a
3 time state record holder for the Red Wing boys swim team. I also competed in Cross Country and Track and field. In Cross Country I was All-Conference Honorable mention as a Junior and All-Conference as a senior.
Post Red Wing I started off swimming at the University of MN for the first couple of
months. I transferred after one year to Gustavus Adolphus College and competed for them for 2 years. At Gustavus Adolphus I was a 7 time conference champion, I received 6 All-American Honorable mention awards, and 1 All-American award. In 2000 I helped Gustavus Adolphus to ending St. Olaf’s 97 consecutive conference Dual meet victories as well as their 20 year consecutive conference championships. I did this with fellow Red Wing Swimmers Jeff Simonson, Nick and Nate Brase, and Diver Charlie Kimball.
4. What is your best memory from the Red Wing High School team.
There are many memories to Choose from. When we had team parties and we would play Golden Eye on the Nintendo 64 until late at night was always a great time and team bonding experience. Or during Christmas break when we would go to Godfather pizza on Thursday for Buffets and see how much pizza we could eat. I am sure they lost money on us. It could be my Junior year at state where we were 5th over all, highest finish by a Red Wing swim team up to that point. We won both the 200 and 400 free relays. It would however have to be my senior year when we won the state meet. We had such a complete team. We finished 2nd in the Medlay relay, won both free relays, won 2 individual events (Myself in the 200 free and Nick Brase in the 50 free) We set 4 state records as a team, had top 8 finishers in every event but 2 (the 50 and 100
free we had 3 and the two events we did not have top 8’s I think we were 9th and had two in the top 16 of the other). We won by such a large margin I don’t think we had to swim the breastroke or the 400 free relay. The team really came together.
5. Anything else stick out in your mind? Memories, quotes, races, teammates?
I don’t think you have enough space for all the good stuff. I remember when I was in 8th grade we were out touched in the last relay against Northfield to loose the dual meet
in our pool. The next year we turned things around on them as we out touched them in the last relay to win the dual meet, in their pool on their home coming. It was great to turn the tables on our conference rivals. Charlie Nelson always had great quotes. One of my favorites would have to be “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we would
all have a Merry Christmas.” It’s funny, but it also let us remember, no excuses and to work hard.
6. What are you up to now?
Currently I have my Professional License in Triathlons. I race in a couple of different series around the US and I also compete in the ITU draft legal format. This is the
format that is raced in the Olympics where you can draft on the bike (most races, especially for age-groupers there is no drafting). You earn points in ITU races to move up to bigger races and if you earn enough points you can race for a spot on the US Olympic team. I want to earn more points and do some more prestigious races, but I doubt the Olympics will be in my future. Unfortuntely only the top couple of Pro’s actually make a full time living from Triathlon so I work a full time job to pay for travel and other race expenses. I work for a company called T3. We are contracted by the US Navy to work with their BUD/s prep program. Our job is to get Navy SEAL recruits
physically ready for the demands they will face in their training. I am the lead SME (Subject matter expert) and help them become better in the water. Again, they are recruits and not yet Navy SEALS. Only about 20% of the guys we see will get through the entire program and receive their trident. I also coach swimmers and triathletes on the side.
7. What advice would you give if you could talk to yourself in high school or what advice would you give to the current members of the team?
I would give myself the same advice I would give the current members of the team. Work hard and if something does not go as planned, whether its a season, a meet, a
practice, or even a swim set, don’t worry about it to much. Learn from it and do better the next time.
If you know of any other alumni that have interesting stories please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.