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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Nymeyer shows the advantage of athletics outside the pool

Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Swimming Vs Stanford.
Jake Lacey
Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat Swimming Vs Stanford.

Lacey Nymeyer watched a video screen of two other 2009 NCAA Woman of the Year candidates showcasing their accomplishments.

It was impressive.

“”I looked at my video and felt pretty inadequate,”” Nymeyer said after the award ceremony.

But there she was at a McKale Center press conference on Thursday, talking about winning the most prestigious award for a female athlete.

Although it was another individual honor stacked on top of her already long list of accomplishments, it was a reminder that college athletics aren’t solely concerned with fan draw. The award gave Nymeyer another podium to stand on, another venue to spread positivity and another opportunity to help others, the not-often-talked-about part of college athletics.

For all the negative press in big-time athletic programs — from DUIs to assaults to violations in recruiting the athletes themselves — the feel-good stories are often overlooked.

The media often play a game of seek and destroy, trying to find the dark secrets of the NCAA world. Those stories are there, for sure, and it’s important to keep unruly athletic departments in check.

But then we will overlook the positives that come from athletics. Some people really do make that much of a difference. Nymeyer’s story is a perfect example of the good things happening within university locker rooms.

When she volunteers at the Haven House for Women, Casa De Los Niños for children or speaks at swim clinics around the nation, Nymeyer is not just another face in the crowd. Kids, you’re listening to Lacey Nymeyer the Olympic silver-medalist, Arizona Wildcat and National Champion.

Of course, you’re listening to Lacey Nymeyer the human being, too.

She has brought attention to how athletic programs help their athletes outside of competition just as much as they help them within it.

“”We would talk a lot about life,”” Nymeyer said of her relationship with head swimming coach Frank Busch.

Because of her fame, she can pass on Busch’s lesson of life.

Nymeyer, among other Wildcats, has used her status as a Olympic silver-medalist and Arizona Wildcat for good. For all the struggles she’s faced as student and athlete, she can apply what she learned at Arizona and teach young swimmers in the pool and young academics in the classroom.

During Thursday’s press conference, Nymeyer talked about going home to her parents after a bad practice.

“”They’d sit and listen and listen to me vent, and then they’d bring me back down to earth,”” she said.

“”It’s not about you,”” they would tell her.

Then, they would remind her that her own actions affected other people.

When she tells those stories, people listen — they can take a message away from her sitting at the microphone and talking about everyday life.

“”Swimming is what I do, not who I am,”” she said Thursday.

That’s the way it should be, but Nymeyer the Olympic silver-medalist also makes her word that much more powerful when she’s out of the water.

When those labels combine with her passion for teaching, she’s Lacey Nymeyer the Difference-Maker.

—Kevin Zimmerman is a

journalism junior. He can be reached at

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