Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Statistics Major Ups His Stats (Men’s Swimming)

By Brian ReganThe Daily Northwestern

In a sport obsessed with times and numbers, sophomore Eric Nilsson picked the right major – one that focuses on numbers as much as he does.

The statistics major has gone from a freshman wunderkind at the end of last season to a dangerous competitor this season, boosting No. 7 Northwestern to three Big Ten wins.

“Last year he didn’t know what to expect going into races,” coach Bob Groseth said. “Now he expects to win.”

This year, Nilsson has won all nine individual events he’s entered.

But this weekend he will go up against teammate Matt Grevers, who also hasn’t lost this season.

“He has told me he is going to beat me,” Nilsson said. “Of course I did the same back. We do that in workouts too, where he will beat me at something and gloat about it until I beat him back.”

Nilsson hides his competitive streak under a calm, easygoing demeanor, which is useful for him to guide the underclassmen this year.

“I like being older because I can give advice to the younger guys,” Nilsson said. “Such as what worked or didn’t work with me to see if that will help them.”

His dominance this season can be traced to his hard work last year and over the summer.

He has set a personal best in the 200-yard fly and destroyed the field whenever he swims distance: case in point his 1000-yard free performance against Purdue on Nov. 4, where he won by 16 seconds.

“He moved himself into a position where he was a very good swimmer,” Groseth said. “This year he comes in having already achieved that and hopefully he wants to step it up to another level.”

NU hasn’t had the fly/distance free combination in some time, but Groseth said Nilsson is picking up where NU alum and combo swimmer Brian Davis left off.

Last year at the NCAA championships, Nilsson joined the ranks of NU All-Americans when he raced on the 400-yard free relay that placed seventh.

“It was really exciting,” Nilsson said. “I think it was the fastest short-course meet in the world last year and just getting to swim at night in the 400-free relay in front of all the fans with Matt (Grevers), Mike (Alexandrov) and Kyle (Bubolz).”

Racing at the top of the sport has its perks, but Nilsson wants more this time around.

He doesn’t just want to be there to admire the view, he wants to win, and he will have a good chance to showcase his talents at this weekend’s NU TYR Invitational.

“I want to win a Big Ten championship individually,” Nilsson said. “If I am on a relay we will probably win because we have a strong group of guys, but really I want to score at NCAA’s.”

Reach Brian Regan at [email protected].

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Statistics Major Ups His Stats (Men’s Swimming)