By Sharon Robb
Reprinted from February 15, 2018
PARKLAND, February 14, 2019—-The swimming community is saddened beyond belief by the senseless death of Nicholas Dworet.
The swimmer was one of 17 killed during one of the deadliest school shootings Wednesday at his beloved high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Dworet, a high school and club swimmer in the Florida Gold Coast, was headed to the University of Indianapolis on an academic scholarship this fall. The program is ranked in the top five of NCAA Division II swimming.
Dworet was a member of TS Aquatics and before that Coral Springs Swim Club. Dworet earned second team All-County honors in the freestyle and consistently ranked among the county’s top swimmers in the honor roll.
In the past 18 months since he joined TS Aquatics, he turned his life around for the better. He focused on his academics and training and improved from a middle-of-the-pack swimmer according to TS Aquatics Coach Andre Bailey. He found purpose and focus and was ready to start the next chapter of his academic and swimming career, Bailey said. Bailey said he was making all the right choices. Dworet of Swedish descent, had hoped to earn a spot on the Swedish national swim team.
“I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart, he just took his life in his hands… he chiseled and molded his life,” Bailey told the Indianapolis Star. “This kid went from being listless and going through the motions to planning ahead and organizing his life. He was an all-around great kid. Everybody loved him.”
Dworet was team captain on TS Aquatics and known as “swim daddy.” He took the younger swimmers under his wing and helped to motivate them at practice.
“This is a kid who went from middle-of- the-pack last year to being just lights out,” Bailey said. “He helped put our program on the map.”
Bailey was with Dworet’s family when they got the notification of his death Thursday morning. He was one of the first victims to be identified after his family shared his photo on social media.
“Nicholas was a happy young man who embodied the values of our program,” TS Aquatics posted. “He was an amazing person as well as a great swimmer. A young man who had changed his life recently and was on a major upswing in his life.
“Nick you have touched everyone on TS Aquatics in one way or another, whether it was your smile, your jokes, or your very positive attitude. You will be forever missed.”
Swimmers, coaches and friends have been sharing their condolences on social media around the U.S.
Said TS Aquatics Coach Marty Grady: “He was not only a good swimmer but a good person. A happy young man. Nick, you have touched everyone on the team in one way or another, you will be very missed.”
Said one tweet, “Once a greyhound, always a greyhound. Nicholas Dworet would have been with us at UIndy this fall, and we’ll make sure that’s never forgotten.”
“Heaven has gained an angel today,” said another tweet. “We love you Nick.”
Said a friend on Facebook, “Please pray for the family and friends of Nicholas Dworet. Nick was a hero, thinking of his younger brother before himself through all that evil. May God bless him and the people who loved him.”
At St. Thomas Aquinas High School during Thursday morning prayer service, 17 white balloons were released in honor of those who lost their lives.
UIndy President Robert L. Manuel and swim coach Jason Hite have been in contact with the Dworet family and will continue to offer support.
“Nick’s death is a reminder that we are connected to the larger world, and when tragedy hits in places around the world, it often times affects us at home,” Manuel said in a statement emailed to the Indianapolis Star.
Swim parent Steven Meyer, whose son and daughter swim with Dworet at TS Aquatics, also posted a touching dedication on Facebook:
“Nick was a great kid. A long-time teammate of our children and an all-around great kid from a great family. We are at a loss for word right now. Our son always looked up to Nick at Coral Springs and also TS Aquatics. Kiddo you will be missed, such a devastating senseless loss. So many friends and families in this community are devastated.
“As parents, we cannot imagine what your family is going through right now. Thank you for always pushing and supporting Alexander. Whether in public or private, he will always admire and look up to you.”
One friend wrote a final heartwrenching tribute on Instagram to Dworet: “We had class together earlier in the day. ‘See you tomorrow,’ you said as you walked out. But I won’t see you tomorrow, or next week, or next month. We walked into kindergarten together, so knowing that you won’t be walking across the stage at graduation with me in a few months is devastating and heartbreaking.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org