Nicholas Litterer helps UW-La Crosse swim team win relay titles, set school record
By John Burbridge
Why people continue to compete in triathlons could be because humans have a poor memory when it comes to pain.
Remember that, Nicholas Litterer.
The 2019 Charles City graduate and current senior at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is actually thinking about doing triathlons in the near future.
Before you can talk him out of it, consider that Litterer is already two-thirds of the way there.
“I just need to get the cycling part down,” he said.
As for traversing by way of land and sea without the use of wheels and bell-linked chains, Litterer has gotten those parts down and then some.
As a Charles City Comet, Litterer was a multiple state-qualifier with the boys cross country and track teams. But he really blazed a path through the water as a multiple-event state-qualifier for the Mason City boys swimming team.
While swimming with the then-called Mohawks, Litterer threatened to break the school’s record in the 100-yard backstroke set nearly 20 years before by Derek Duffy.
Litterer did best Duffy’s time of 52.92 seconds — but not in his last high school meet … rather in the subsequent YMCA State Swimming Championships, where Litterer set YMCA state records in the Boys 15-21 age group in the 100 back (52.7), 50 back (25.1) and 200 freestyle (1:41.45).
Before Litterer continued his swimming career at UW-La Crosse, several family-unrelated Comet supporters thought he should have been given greater consideration for the school’s Male Athlete of the Year due to the plethora of state-meet berths he earned — though some of them were while representing another school.
With the Eagles, Litterer has continued to make a significant splash.
At the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Swim Meet held Feb. 16-18 at the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, Litterer helped the Eagles win conference titles in the 200 freestyle relay (with Blake Nelson, Jackson Plautz and Will Quackenbush, 1:23.31) and in the 400 freestyle relay (with Mitchel Johnson, Jonah Elfers and Quackenbush, 3:02.70).
Litterer also swam the opening backstroke leg on the Eagles’ 400 medley relay team also consisting of Johnson, Elfers and Quackenbush, that placed third with a time of 3:22.60 while setting an Eagles’ school record in the event.
Though Litterer’s success in the pool is measured by seconds and yards, it took a long time and a lot of mileage to get there.
“They never had a (boys) swim program at Charles City when I went there,” said Litterer, who swam 12 years with the Charles City Family YMCA Swim Team and was encouraged by former coach Rich Turpen to join the Mason City HS program led by Steve Hugo.
“It was a long way to go,” Litterer said of the 60-plus-mile combined commute. “I mean I wish there could have been a boys team here, but there hasn’t been one since the 90s.
“But I love swimming. I was willing to make the sacrifice.”
Nonetheless, Litterer’s resolve was tested upon advancing to the collegiate level.
“I didn’t do much weight-training for swimming while I was in high school,” Litterer said, “but they require weight-training (at UW-La Crosse). They have it at 5:30 in the morning. It took some time to get used to that.”
No pain, no gain.
Litterer, who has been recognized as the Scholar-Athlete for the UW-La Crosse, is due to graduate in May with a major in Financing and a double minor in Analytics and Economics.