For everything we do in life, there is always a “why” to it. Some things are easier to find that “why” than others. What makes us all unique is that we have different “whys” to the same questions.

Senior superstar Nicole Petta, is no different. The dominant senior, along with classmates Eliza Anderson, Caitlyn Blake, and Grace Kneller, have led the University of Rhode Island Swimming and Diving Team to a historic season, notching a 9-2 record heading into the Atlantic 10 championship event. Before every race, no matter how big or small in importance, she too thinks about the reason she swims.

“I always look to the sidelines and look to my teammates and remember my whys,” said Petta. “Why am I here, why do I swim. That’s what I fall back on.”

This mindset has led to unprecedented success for the senior. Throughout her career at the URI, she has won 61 total events. She has won medleys, which are individual or team relays where swimmers swim the freestyle, backstroke, breastroke and butterfly all in one swim. Petta has also been dominant in her favorite style, the 100m breaststroke, where she has claimed a mind-boggling 19 victories throughout her time on campus.

Petta swam competitively for the last time at the Tootell Aquatic Center on Super Bowl Sunday, which resulted in a 169-130 victory over Central Connecticut State University. More importantly though were the senior celebrations that took place before the game which gave Petta a moment to reflect on what the group has done.

“It’s kind of near the end of all four of our swimming careers and just that alone is super humbling and touching because it’s been so big in our lives for such a long time,” Petta said. “I honestly could not have asked for a better year to go out on. Truly.”

Her achievements in the pool are perhaps best explained by something outside of it: nutritional cooking. Petta runs an Instagram page (@nutritious.nicole) where she shares healthy foods that she cooks or orders at restaurants. While it might just be a hobby, the senior lit up when asked about her dual life as a health guru.

“I have always loved sharing it [food] with my friends and family. I kind of started it for fun and it has grown into this hobby of mine. I love it.” She went on to add “It’s just so fun for me. I think there’s such an important aspect of fueling yourself with proper nutrition.”

The senior is also a high achiever in the classroom. In 2017, she was named to the A-10 All Conference Academic Team and was named a CSCCA Scholar All-American. In 2018, she went honorable mention as a CSCCAA Scholar All-American.

Speaking about the how swimming crosses over with academics, Petta said “I honestly don’t think I would do as well in the classroom without swimming because it gives me such a strict routine and regime. It’s just helped me so much staying organized and with time management has been the biggest part of it all. Building those characteristics has been so great.”

Following graduation this spring, Petta plans to attend graduate school in hopes of becoming a school psychologist. She first has to swim in the Atlantic 10 championships, which will be held from Feb. 20 to Feb. 23 in Geneva, Ohio.