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Nolan and Knutson both hold four national swimming records

Knutson_Nolan 

For a person to hold a national record in the NFHS’ National High School Sports Record Book is indeed a very remarkable accomplishment.

To concurrently hold two national records is doubly remarkable.

Three would be amazing, and even borderline incredible.

But, four national records? At the same time? That’s almost beyond belief.

Believe it or not, not only is there one person who currently holds four national records, there are two such people.

And perhaps adding to its uniqueness is the fact they are both in the same sport - swimming.

Those two swimmers ‑ David Nolan on the boys side and Dagny Knutson on the girls side ‑ both have their names listed in four separate places in the Record Book.

Nolan, who graduated from Hershey (Pennsylvania) High School in 2011, holds records in the 100-yard backstroke (:45.49), 100-yard freestyle (:42.34), 200-yard individual medley (1:41.39) and as the leadoff leg of the Hershey 200-yard freestyle relay squad (1:21.01).

Knutson graduated from Minot (North Dakota) High School in 2010. While there, she set national records in the 100-yard freestyle (:48.15 in 2009), 200-yard freestyle (1:42.81 in 2008), 200-yard individual medley (1:53.82 in 2009) and 500-yard freestyle (4:34.78 in 2008). Knutson’s 100-yard freestyle mark in 2009 broke her own record of :48.33 set in 2008. She was coached by Dan Hinton at Minot High School, and by Hinton’s mentor, Kathy Aspaas, who served as her personal coach.

Perhaps making Nolan’s feat even more amazing is the fact that he set all four records at one meet ‑ the 2011 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class AAA state championships at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Nolan was so advanced for his age as a high schooler that his 1:41.39 time in the 200-yard IM at the 2011 PIAA state tournament would have won the 2011 National Collegiate Athletic Association national championship.

The solidly built 6-foot-2, 185-pound Nolan didn’t start out that way. When he first took up swimming, he was heavy with a belly that hung over his Speedos. Ribbing from the other kids motivated Nolan to work just that much harder. Thanks to a strict weight-training regimen and countless hours in the pool, the pounds melted off, Nolan’s waistline shrank appreciably and he became the world-class swimmer he is today. He was coached 11 years by Greg Fastrich on both the high school and club teams. After graduation, Nolan headed west to Stanford, where he is a full scholarship athlete on the Cardinal swimming team.

Knutson, who started swimming at age 9, grew up in Minot, about 50 miles from the Canadian border. Because of its geographical proximity, Knutson used to swim in so many meets in Canada that she once was mistakenly named one of that country’s top 12-year-old swimmers.

Knutson seems to have inherited at least some of her athletic ability as her parents Jim and Ronda were both college athletes. In addition, both parents are Norwegian, so they chose a Norwegian given name for their daughter.

Following high school graduation, Knutson took a rather circuitous route to her current location. She originally signed with Auburn (Alabama) University, but she decommitted and decided to go pro after the departure of assistant coach Paul Yeter. As such, she moved on to a club team in Southern California, but her coach there left also. She ended up in the Sunshine State, training for the 2012 London Summer Olympics at the University of Florida with legendary coach Gregg Troy.

According to Aspaas, Knutson’s success has been to a large extent due to her incredible dedication and work ethic.

“Dagny's strengths as a high school swimmer were that she realized her abilities and maximized them every day at practice,” Aspaas said. “She never took a day for granted, knowing her competitors were hard at work in the pool. Dagny swam every yard with awareness of what it was doing for her, whether it was building strength, speed, flexibility, balance, fine-tuning technique, etc.

“Dagny's best events during her high school years were the 200 IM and the 400 IM. Because of Dagny's focus, she had a good grasp on every stroke and worked hard on mastering each leg of the IM. Because of her overall conditioning level and her mastering of each stroke, she was able to compete at the highest level in all strokes.

“Dagny was obviously the best high school athlete I have had the privilege of working with. She was committed to every aspect of her training. Dagny trained as hard in the gym as she did in the pool. Her awareness of her body as to when her strokes felt off, her awareness of her ideal training weight and her knowledge of overall nutrition were far above any other athlete I have worked with.

“Dagny had a great support group in Minot. Her parents worked very hard to provide her with the opportunities to compete at the highest level. Her dryland trainer, Jason Blackburn, designed a training program which maximized her muscle recruitment to be sport-specific. She utilized the services of massage therapy and most importantly relied on her belief in herself. Dagny lived by the motto ‘If you can dream it, you can achieve it!’

“Dagny was very interested in giving back ‑ not only to her high school and club team but to the community and the state in general. She made frequent visits to service groups, grade schools, coaches clinics, etc., where she would share her experiences with others. She always took time to motivate other swimmers - no matter what team they were on.

“It was a pleasure to coach this fine young lady and I can only wish the best for her as she continues to apply what she has learned about her sport and herself to everyday life. She will be a tremendous asset to whatever profession she chooses.” 

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