A master of the beam, floor, and vault, Swirbalus has worked her entire life to be able to compete at the highest of levels when it comes to gymnastics, and she’s been rewarded with tremendous honors and awards during her first two years at the University of Pennsylvania. Photos by UPenn Athletics
By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
To say that Westwood resident Nicole Swirbalus has thrived since arriving at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2015 would be an understatement. After recently completing her sophomore season on the Quaker gymnastics team, Swirbalus enters the offseason as one of the most accomplished gymnasts at the Division I level after placing fourth in the USAG Collegiate National Championships in Seattle last week and being named a USAG All-American.Although the UPenn gymnastics team as a whole did not qualify for Nationals, Nicole was still able to compete as an individual representing both herself and her school, as she competed in the floor, beam, and vault exercises. In the semifinal round of the floor, Nicole scored a 9.85, qualifying her as one of the 18 gymnasts (70 total) to compete in the floor event finals on April 9. In the finals, Swirbalus notched a 9.825, finishing in fourth place and earning a medal on the podium. Swirbalus reflected on her incredible season after returning from an injury that plagued her freshman campaign.
“Last year I got hurt when I qualified for beam, so that was tough,” said Swirbalus. “I was able to go this year and it was cool to represent my team rather than just my individual self. I was so happy that I was able to make the finals. It was truly an honor.”
Along with being named USAG All-American, the Finance major and Spanish minor Swirbalus was awarded the honors of All-America Scholar Athlete, ECAC Scholar Athlete, All-Ivy Scholar Athlete, All-Academic Scholar Athlete, and UPenn’s ECAC Rookie of the Year for gymnastics in 2015-2016. The Milton Academy graduate in 2015 was inducted into the school’s chapter of National Cum Laude Society before attending UPenn.
Nicole is a student in The Wharton School at UPenn, which is nationally recognized as one of the best business schools in the nation, and serves on the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee while also working as a mentor to Wharton freshmen. Swirbalus says she could not have asked for a better situation when it comes to attending college and playing a sport.
“I’m so grateful to be able to attend UPenn,” said Swirbalus. “I love it here. It’s amazing and it’s hard to believe that my first two years have already flown by.”
Before attending the University of Pennsylvania, Swirbalus trained and became great friends with American gymnastic icon, Olympic medalist, and Needham resident Aly Raisman, and the two friends still stay in contact rather frequently.
“She is definitely one of my best friends and we became really close,” said Swirbalus. “We trained together a lot Brestyan’s [American Gymnastics] in Burlington while growing up. She’s awesome.”
With her sophomore season now behind her, Swirbalus will look to put together another successful campaign when she officially becomes an upperclassman next fall during her junior season. Congratulations to Nicole Swirbalus on these incredible accomplishments, and best of luck the rest of the way down in Quaker country.