Several moments in each lifetime change the course of the future.
For freshman Michael Nunan, transferring from the U.S. Naval Academy to the University of Minnesota last January was one of those moments.
A freestyler for the Gophers, Nunan said he chose to transfer out of the Naval Academy because he wanted to focus on a potential swimming career.
“When I went to Navy, we went through boot camp, and we didn’t really swim,” Nunan said. “I realized that military lifestyle wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do and [I’d] rather focus on swimming and trying to compete for the U.S. on international teams or pursuing a higher level in the sport of swimming.”
Once Nunan made his decision to transfer, he opened up his recruitment, and the Gophers were already on top of his list.
Nunan swam for the Santa Clara Swim Club in California where he befriended two Gophers swimming alumni, Russell Payne and Alex Wold.
The former Gophers swam with current assistant coach Steve Miller during their tenure at Minnesota.
“Two good friends of mine [Payne and Wold] moved out to Santa Clara to train post-collegiately,” Miller said. “We kind of knew things about their [swim] club, and they talked about Michael.”
Nunan said they suggested he look into Minnesota.
“They gave Steve my number when I told them that I was looking to transfer,” Nunan said. “Then, Steve gave me a call, and I took a recruiting trip a few weeks later.”
The recruiting trip went well for Nunan, and meeting head coach Kelly Kremer sealed the deal.
“I liked his mentality on how he trains people,” Nunan said. “He understands that there are no loopholes or shortcuts in the sport of swimming. I think a lot of coaches nowadays are trying to do a lot of new stuff and fiddle with weird gears that haven’t been proven to help you that much. [But] Kelly knows that you just need to put in yards to get results.”
Nunan made a good impression on Kremer as well.
“He’s really calm, and his demeanor is unassuming,” Kremer said. “He composes himself in a really casual and relaxed manner.”
Nunan completed his transfer from the Naval Acadamy to Minnesota in the spring semester of 2014, and he arrived on campus midway through the regular swimming season.
However, because of an NCAA rule that applies to student athletes who transfer from one four-year institution to another, he had to sit out from all competitions for one academic year.
During that time, he was still eligible to train with the Gophers.
“The first semester that he was here, it was spent getting him into competitive swimming shape,” Kremer said. “In the summer, he went home to swim with Santa Clara [Swimming Club], and he did well in his meets. When he came back to school in the fall semester, we really just got him to immerse with the team.”
After a year of noncompetition, Nunan finally debuted as a Gophers freestyler in a dual meet against Hawaii.
He swam in the 200-yard freestyle and placed first with a time of 1:39.76.
“I was happy with not only the event and winning it but the time [that I got] for where we are in the season,” Nunan said. “It was a positive start to the rest of the season.”
Miller said he was not surprised that Nunan took first in his debut.
“[He’s] a very talented athlete, and we are very excited that he is a part of our team,” Miller said. “Honestly, I am really happy for him that he is starting his NCAA career like that.”
Kremer said Nunan is one of their “go-to” guys now going into the postseason.
“My expectations are as high as they could be,” Kremer said. “If we’re going to be the type of team that we’re capable of, Mike has to be performing at the highest level, and I don’t expect anything less than that from him.”