Nic Fink After Superb 2022: ‘How Can I Possibly Stop Now?’

Nic Fink United of States of America celebrates after winning the gold medal in the 50m Breaststroke Men Final during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 18th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Nic Fink -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Nic Fink After Superb 2022: ‘How Can I Possibly Stop Now?’

Early in 2022, Nic Fink admitted that his future in the sport was somewhat uncertain. He had left the University of Georgia, his training base for a decade, and moved to Atlanta for graduate school in electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech. At age 28 and after finally clinching his long-awaited chance to swim at an Olympics, Fink knew he had to balance school and swimming, maybe even subtracting a bit of intensity from his focus on the sport.

But after an abundance of international success, that thought process has changed.

“How can I possibly stop now?” Fink said. “When I made the switch to do grad school at Georgia Tech and swim there, I didn’t anticipate having arguably the best year of my career.”

“Knowing that what I’m doing is a successful way of continuing to pursue outside things like engineering but also continuing to pursue that excellence in the pool is really cool, and it’s encouraging.”

In June, Fink swam at his fourth long course World Championships but left with medals for the first time. On the second day of the meet, he claimed bronze in the 100 breaststroke, and two days later, he upset Nicolo Martinenghi for gold in the 50 breast. Less than an hour later, he swam on the U.S. mixed 400 medley relay team that won gold, and at the end of the meet, he added a silver in the men’s 400 medley relay.

At the end of the year, Fink captured gold medals in the 100 breast and 50 breast at the Short Course World Championships plus silver in the 200 breast and three relay medals. And while he was there, he officially put the finishing touches on his Master’s degree.

“I did get a lot of the work done before the trip. I knew some of the deadlines were going to be sprinkled throughout the trip. I did submit my last assignment the day of the 100 breast final,” Fink said. “It didn’t take too long. It was just going over a few final things and hitting the submit button. It was definitely a relief to completely switch the engineering brain off and focus on the meet.”

nic-fink-

Nic Fink — Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

And after a short break from training after the 25-meter championships, Fink is back to training with no more school on the radar, and he finds himself in the very unexpected position of best sprint breaststroker in the world.

Fink was pegged for most of his career as a 200-meter specialist with a strong 100 breast to boot, and indeed, he qualified for the Olympics by virtue of winning the 200 breast at Olympic Trials after he missed the U.S. team in the 100 breast by a mere one hundredth. But since Fink moved to Atlanta, Georgia Tech sprint coach Mike Norment has helped Fink refine his approach to the one-lapper, and that event produced his first world title.

“I think that will never stop surprising me,” Fink said. “I never thought I would be a 50 guy, let alone at this caliber. There were points in my career where I was the type of 200 guy who would take his 100 out in the same time as the 50 flat-start. It’s kind of bizarre to think that I’m at this level of swimming in the 50.”

But despite all that sprint success, Fink has no plans of moving away from the 200 breast altogether. “I hesitate to do that, only because I really think training both helps both,” Fink said. “Having that 200 training helps me bring it home in the 100, and working on that early speed helps me in the 200. I’m definitely pursuing both and will be swimming both for as long as I can.”

As for his engineering future, Fink is looking for work-related opportunities right now to gain some real-world experience, but he is emphasizing to potential employers that swimming will remain a primary focus, at least for now.

Meanwhile, Fink’s fiancée, 2016 U.S. Olympian Melanie Margalis, has already shifted away from swimming into a working role but a very familiar one as she is now an assistant coach at Georgia Tech, with Fink in a front-row seat as he trains with the Yellow Jackets’ college team.

“It’s very cool to see her every day and grow in this new role that she’s had assistant coaching, and I think it’s been really fun to kind of see her interact with kids and to see her on deck,” Fink said. “It’s changed a little bit, but it’s really fun to be still doing the same thing with her right there. She has given me the business once or twice at practice, so I’m still getting used to that.”

Fink added that Margalis is enjoying coaching, but the 29-year-old remains on the wet side of the sport, zeroing in on the long course World Championships this summer and the Paris Olympics next year. He is still training and racing with a clear vision of what he hopes to achieve over the remaining portion of his swimming career, this second phase he never expected.

“It does seem like I’m playing with house money. As of a year-and-a-half ago, I feel like I accomplished everything in the sport that I wanted to, and I was pretty happy with how my career turned out. I was going into grad school, and whatever happens happens. Everything else has been icing on the cake,” Fink said.

“I guess I have to double down and think that anything from here is even more icing on the cake. That’s how I approached it the last year-and-a-half, and that’s hopefully how I’ll continue to approach it because it seems to be working. I seem to be more relaxed heading into race situations and enjoying practice on a daily basis. That’s the healthiest part, maintaining the love for the sport, even when it’s your 10,000th time diving into the cold pool in the morning.”

Subscribe
Notify of
avatar
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x