NEWINGTON - It had been nine years since Newington High School produced a swimmer that advanced to the State Open meet.
That was until Robert Nagy dropped more than six seconds in the 100 freestyle from the start of the season to reach the meet.
“It was quite a journey really,” Nagy said.
Nagy started this swimming season with a finishing time of 55 low in the 100 freestyle and it didn’t take long for the time to start dropping off.
“Each meet after that, I kept on getting better and faster,” Nagy said. “Then finally, I had my last chance at [the Class L] finals [and] I went a 49.18 and that qualified me as an alternate for the State Open meet. Then, someone actually scratched from [the] Open and I was able to fill in the spot. It really worked out. I was really lucky and fortunate.”
Nagy placed 16th overall in the state with a time of 48.70, only .12 seconds away from breaking the school record. He also swam in the 50 freestyle and finished in a time of 22.40.
“We were really hoping he would get a chance to swim [at the State Open],” Newington head coach Crystal Connery said, “and the fact that he did get the chance to swim and to compete and to come in 16th place overall was unbelievable to watch.”
But what impressed Connery the most was, even though Nagy was an alternate and there was a possibility of him not competing, he still came to practice every day, giving his all.
“There was not a question [in his mind] he was going to that meet,” Connery said. “He was practicing every day, even though he wasn’t sure if he was going to get the chance to swim. He would come into practice and focus on what he could do to get better right up until the very end. I couldn’t ask for anything more in an athlete, especially a senior role model on the team.”
By the end of the season, Nagy had scored over 200 varsity points alone for the Indians and received an All-CCC selection.
“It was a pleasure getting to coach Rob this season,” Connery said. “It was my first season as head coach and as I was coming in, I had some big shoes to fill [replacing longtime coach Gary Harrigan]. Rob was really just a leader on the team and the guys looked up to him. He ended the season as our leading scorer by a landslide.”
Nagy has been swimming for 10 years now. Originally a soccer player early on, he turned in the cleats for a cap and goggles.
“My dad actually signed me up,” Nagy said. “It was the spring of 2008 and he used to swim as a kid. I instantly fell in love with the sport and I’ve loved it ever since.”
Nagy looks up to his father every day as a role model. Originally from Hungary, Robert Nagy Sr. started swimming when he was just a child and then his son involved.
Throughout any athletic career, athletes will come across tough times and Nagy was no different.
“I have had plenty of hardships throughout my career. I can go on and on about them,” Nagy said. “The main thing that really plateaued me was my times.”
There have been some years when Nagy hasn’t swam during the summer or the offseason and he believes that stalled his progression in becoming faster.
“It affected me,” Nagy said. “And when I went back into the boys season, it really messed me up. I probably could have fixed that and could’ve been 10 times better than I am today.”
But he didn’t let that stop him from having an exceptional ending to his high school swimming career.
With the high school swim season now over, Nagy is looking to continue his swimming career at the next level. But with around 5,300 colleges in the United States, he is making sure he picks the right one.
“At the moment I’m still at a crossroads here,” Nagy said. “I’m not really leaning towards a specific college yet just because they’re so many more options out there, so at the moment I’m undecided.”
No matter where Nagy decides to enroll, Connery knows that he’ll be ready for that next level of competition.
“The fact that he made the Open this year says a lot as far as his dedication and commitment to this sport and the level of talent that he has right now,” Connery said. “I definitely think it’s a great next step for him. Seeing him finish this past weekend didn't look like an end, but the start to his next chapter in swimming.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org