NSU swimmers Erin Black and Oskar Nordstrand, both seniors, had never met until they transferred to NSU in the fall of 2011. Since then, the brother-sister-like duo has found their groove. The two not only train and go to school together, but they also share an apartment and almost identical schedules.
Their constant practicing and conditioning has led them to the same place: an NCAA Division II National Championship. Both Black and Nordstrand won the national championship in the 500-yard freestyle on March 8 in Birmingham, Ala. While this was Nordstrand’s first national title, Black defended her championship run from last season.
Black learned how to swim when she was 3 years old and began swimming competitively at age 5, following in her dad’s footsteps. She began with her club team, Swim Florida, in Fort Myers and then progressed to her high school’s team under the direction of the same coach. She then’ swam for Florida Gulf Coast University for two years before transferring to NSU.
Black had a very successful first season at NSU. During the regular season, she blew by NCAA B-cut qualifying times in the 500-yard freestyle and the 1000-yard freestyle. At the Sunshine State Conference championship, she earned a second place spot in the 1650-yard freestyle with an A-cut finishing time of 16:56.53. At the NCAA Division II Championships, not only did she win the 500-yard freestyle, but she was also a part of the 400 and 800-free relay, both of which set SSC and NSU records. By the end of the season, Black was awarded the Michael D. Fish Outstanding Performer award, First Team All-SSC, SSC Swimmer of the Year and was also named as an All-American.
Nordstrand, like Black, started to swim when he was 3 years old. He said that he did not like it at first and tended to separate himself from the group. His mentality changed when he was 9 years old and decided to swim competitively. A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Nordstrand graduated from Varmdo Gymnasium in June of 2009. Throughout his swimming career, Nordstrand has competed at the Swedish youth, junior and senior nationals.
He decided to move to the U.S. to swim for a university. Originally, Nordstrand attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. While at Wayne State, he was able to become a five time All-American in his freshman year and a six time All-American during his sophomore year.
Once Nordstrand transferred to NSU, he continued his success. At the SSC Championship, he earned 57 points and won the 500 and 100-yard freestyles. At the NCAA Division II National Championships, he came in second in the 500-yard freestyle and fourth in the 1000-yard freestyle. At the end of the season, he earned All-American honors in the 500, 1000 and 1650-yard freestyles, as well as in the 400 and 800-yard freestyle relays.
I sat down with Black and Nordstrand to ask them a few questions:
What is your best memory in the sport?
Black: Winning conference last year, I remember being in the pool, looking around and seeing both men’s and women’s team and all of our coaches in the pool. It’s a tradition; when you win, you get in the pool and splash water. I just remember looking around and seeing everybody smiling.
Nordstrand: I would say the same thing. I won the conference championship at my old school but it was not as much fun because I transferred for a reason. Winning with a team I actually liked was amazing.
What is your best accomplishment?
Nordstrand: Definitely winning at nationals this year is one of the greatest things I’ve ever accomplished but I swam Swedish nationals this fall as well. I won the 1500 free there and that was one of my biggest ones as well.
Black: It’s probably being on this team. It’s really been a difficult road and these past two years have made me very thankful to be on this team and to have the coach that I have. My accomplishment is being part of an awesome team and having such great teammates.
What is your favorite part of swimming?
Nordstrand: The team aspect of it all is a lot of fun. In America, they emphasize that a lot more than they do back home, especially this team. We’re all very close and have common goals.
Black: In morning practice earlier this year, we were changing sets and I was just hanging on the wall and looking around thinking how much I’m going to miss this. Where else in the world are you going to see 18 to 21-year olds at 5:30 in the morning training together?
What is the best part of the men’s and women’s teams training together?
Nordstrand: [Swimming is] one of the very few sports where you actually get the privilege of training together. You definitely get a different input of working out. We may not always do the same workouts or same intervals but we push each other constantly and, sometimes, it’s good to have a girl push you because she will do it in a different way than a guy.
Black: There’s always someone to chase. If you’re the fastest guy on the team, there’s nothing to go after. For girls, there’s always someone ahead of you. There’s always someone you can beat.
Do you have any plans to swim after you graduate?
Nordstrand: I want to swim in the Swedish nationals, for sure, and then U.S. nationals and then we’ll see as far as international meets go. I’ve always had this dream about going to the Olympics.
Black: I’m going to try and do open water swimming, see if I can’t reel some sponsors in that way.
If you had one superpower, what would it be?
Nordstrand: I’ve always wanted to be able to fly.
Black: I’d want to be able to control time or travel in time. I want to be able to teleport wherever I wanted, like going back to the 60s. I wish I could just stop time and get all my studying done. I’d be the ultimate multi-tasker.
If you had an all-expense paid trip, where would you go and why?
Nordstrand: The Galapagos Islands. Two teammates are going there for the summer and I’ve always
wanted to go. It looks like such a cool place.
Black: I would go to somewhere in the Mediterranean or South Africa. I want to go somewhere I haven’t been — new experiences, new language, new food, new people.