At the end of a race when it’s time to reach for the final wall, Oliver Nelson has a distinct advantage over other swimmers. Take one look at him and you’ll understand why.
Nelson, a Cascade co-captain, is 6-foot-5. It’s a natural advantage that helps him greatly in a sport where finishers are often separated by less than a second.
Nelson said he was “pretty short” in middle school but immediately sprouted when he got to high school: “I’ve been growing ever since pretty much. I’ve outgrown everybody in my family.”
This week Nelson — an accomplished trumpet player who digs Metallica — will go to the Class 4A state swimming and diving championships in Federal Way. He is an alternate on for Cascade’s 200-yard medley relay team.
Since he didn’t start swimming competitively until high school, Nelson was pretty raw at first. But the senior has become a solid swimmer and well-rounded, appreciated leader, Cascade swimming coach Eric Smith said: “He’s always doing something and he’s one of those guys who never stops. He’s a great team member and he’ll do anything you ask him to.”
A river runs through it
Nelson developed an interest in swimming during childhood trips to his family’s cabin in Arlington. He and his siblings often swum to an island hideout or floated down the river on rafts. Eventually swimming became more than just a summer leisure activity. “I just found satisfaction in doing it so I competed in high school,” said Nelson. “It’s a good way to stay in shape.”
In the fast lane
Nelson’s individual events this season were the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. He placed 22nd in the latter event at the district championships, finishing in a personal-best time of 1 minute, 8.24 seconds. He prefers short-distance races because “you get in and go as fast as you can — just the adrenaline you get, especially from winning a race.”
Band on the run
Also a trumpet player, Nelson performed in Cascade’s marching band, which this past fall placed first in the sweepstakes category at a statewide competition in Auburn. Nelson, who started playing trumpet in sixth grade, went on several out-of-state trips with the group the past several years and said he had some great experiences: “I made a lot of really good friends because of marching band.”
The game of life
Accepted by DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Nelson wants to become a video-game programmer. He likes working with computers and is an avid gamer. One of his favorites is “Rock Band 2.” He prefers playing guitar or drums and his go-to song is “Almost Easy” by Avenged Sevenfold.
Mike Cane, Herald Writer