Nicholas Cordell is one of those athletes coaches love to have on the team. He will be the first to admit he’s not the best swimmer on the Skyline swimming and diving team – the Eagles have a few exceptional swimmers this year with a deep lineup, including Cordell.
But the senior has an important role in and out of the water. He is someone who believes in not only doing his best but helping others do their best. He’s overcome adversity, surprised himself here and there and does everything he can to not only help his teammates succeed but the program as a whole.
“Nick is a kid that just loves being part of the team and is kind of stealth as he goes about his business with little fanfare,” says Skyline Coach Maureen Murrett. “He leads his group and often mentors younger less experienced swimmers. He has coached young swimmers at the YMCA for years and continues to give back to the sport he loves.”
Cordell has always loved being a “part of the team” and that was something that attracted him to swimming in the first place.
“I have been swimming in some form – either in lessons or on a club team – for as long as I can remember,” says Cordell. “In middle school, I decided that no matter what, I was going to swim in high school. I didn’t really play any other sports competitively so I didn’t find myself torn between two.”
He says that team aspect of the sport sealed the deal.
“I think that when you compare swimming to other sports it comes off as much more individualistic, which in some ways it is, however it’s also still a team sport because your individual swims and events are all about scoring points for your team,” he says.
And this year’s Skyline team is “special.”
“We have a really strong team and everyone brings something different to the table,” he says. “One of our goals is to place high at States and I think that we will have a pretty substantial state team this year, with many of us already having state cuts.
“It’s a very close-knit team, and it’s really good to have that closeness, especially as we are currently in a time where there is a lot of separation. The whole team is very supportive of each other and we all work hard together.”
And while not officially a captain, he sees his role as being a leader and setting an example – see above about being a team player.
“As a senior member of the team I can say that it still means a lot to help support the underclassmen and still be a leader for them,” he says. “It’s still important for those who are older and have more experience to step up and support the underclassmen.”
Cordell’s swimming career at Skyline has been a pool of challenges, adversity and success. He started swimming while a freshman but didn’t make the varsity team until his junior year. As a freshman, he broke his arm the week before the season started and ended up missing the first month.
But that setback only made him work harder.
“Since then I’ve been all over the place in terms of which events I’ve swam,” he says. “Over the course of my sophomore and junior year I primarily swam backstroke. This season I’ve integrated more into freestyle. One of my favorite moments from my time swimming at Skyline came from SEC’s last year when I was put into the 500 freestyle. I hadn’t been swimming that during the season and surprised myself with how well I did.”
Cordell took eighth in a tough field in the 500 free at this weekend’s quad meet at Birmingham Groves with a time of 5:34.41.
Nicholas, 17, is the son of Sigrid Anderson and Jeffery Cordell. Outside of school, he is a “history buff” and enjoys watching European soccer. He is looking into several colleges as he kicks around his future.
He has been swimming for the past seven years for the YMCA Barracudas and plans on swimming again this summer. Right now his focus is on finishing this season strong and helping his team reach their goals.
Cordell credits the Skyline coaching staff for creating an atmosphere of success.
“I think that Skyline swimming does so well every year because of the coaching set up that we have,” he says. “I think that we are really lucky to have two really experienced coaches in Mojo and Paul. Not only them but also the volunteers who come in to help coach.
“This team has a winning mentality that’s passed down by the coaches which definitely helps to add to our success, as the team’s mentality is really important in shaping what each season looks like. It also helps that the upperclassmen on the team all want to be successful every season, and this rubs off on the younger guys which helps to build up that winning mentality in all of us.”
Senior photo by Michael Parker
Swimming photos by Nicole McKelvey