Novinski wins third-straight 500 freestyle title

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The last three years in the 500 yard freestyle, there has only been one guy who has stood on top of the podium. Jonathan Novinski of GICC won by more than eight seconds on Saturday (4:34.61). While he took home another gold, he was left feeling disappointed after he failed to beat his own state record (4:32.04).

"Since I've been young, I've always stressed the fact, it's not always about winning. I mean it is always nice, don't get me wrong, I love looking up and being able to see a one next to my name but it's never about winning," Novinski said. "I guess it's always been more about time for me. So, I just look at the times more than winning, I mean it's always nice to win and I'm very thankful for the opportunity but times are more important to me."

For the last 30 years, Brian Jensen has coached the Grand Island swim team, and he knew from an early age that Novinski was something special.

"Oh, when he was 10 for sure. He was winning events at the Midwestern level when he was 10 years old so it was obvious that he was going to be pretty good," Jensen said.

Novinski grew up in a family of swimmers. His older brother Matt holds numerous records for Grand Island. So, it's easy to say swimming runs in the Novinski family.

"It always has been something that has been important to us. It was never stressed," Novinski said. "I mean my parents were always so nice about that, they never forced us to swim. Their rule was you have to do something, and I don't know i just fell in love with swimming at a younger age and I just got into it quickly."

Next winter, Novinski will look to do something only two Nebraskans have ever done before, win four straight 500 yard freestyle titles. The other two being Jeff Evans of Fremont (1970-73) and Kyle Wemhoff of Norfolk (2005-08).