Mihailo Nikolic’s won championships for his country, now he’d like to win one for his adopted city – Tupelo.
Nikolic, an exchange student from Serbia, will get that opportunity Saturday when he competes for Tupelo High School’s swim team at the MHSAA state championships in Biloxi.
“Yes, winning a state championship is something I would like,” he said, moments after capturing the 200-yard freestyle at the MHSAA North Mississippi meet last week in Jackson. “We don’t have high school swimming in my country.”
Tupelo’s boys are three-time defending state champions.
Nikolic, who is a junior at THS, was a member of the Serbian junior national team and holds a record in the 1,500-meter freestyle. His winning time in the 200 free was 1 minute, 47.52 seconds. His previous best time this year was 1:48.93.
His times in the 200 free are better than last year’s state winner – Starkville’s Andy Bond, who posted a 1:50.17.
He also won the 500-yard freestyle in 4:48.44, beating Clinton’s Ben Vaughan, the defending state champion, who finished second in 4:49.23.
“He’s a hard worker,” Tupelo coach Lucas Smith said. “With the talent base he has and his will to work, the possibilities for him in swimming are endless.”
Nikolic is the guest of Mark and Dianne Craig, whose son, Chandler, is a member of the Golden Wave swim team.
“Hosting an exhange student is something my wife has always wanted to do,” Mark Craig said. “They were looking for a swim family for him to live with because he wanted to swim here.”
Chandler Craig, who finished in the top 16 in the 200 free at North state, likes having Nikolic as a part of his family and team.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “He’s adjusted really well to living and swimming here.”
Nikolic also competed on the Wave’s winning 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay units.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593
GENE PHELPS / NEMS Daily Journal