WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — With Serbia's 4x100 freestyle relay team officially ranked among the top 16 in the world, Purdue All-American Nikola Aćin has cemented his status as the program's first swimmer to qualify for the Olympic Games since 2004.
Aćin anchored Serbia's 4x100 team to a time of 3:13.73 at the European Aquatic Championships, a mark that held up as 15th best internationally through the May 31 cutoff date. Sixteen teams qualify for the Olympics in each relay. The top 12 in the event were determined in the preliminaries of the 2019 FINA World Championships. Serbia clinched one of the four wildcard berths while posting a two-second improvement on its time (3:15.72) from the World Championships.
Serbia's relay team remained intact as a quartet during the two-year wait. Aćin teamed with countrymen Velimir Stjepanovic, Uros Nikolic and Andrej Barna at the World Championships and European Championships. Purdue's record holder in the 100-yard freestyle, as well as four relays, is the youngest member of the foursome at 21 years old.
Javier Diaz (1998-01) was the Boilermakers' last male swimmer to qualify for the Olympic Games, representing Mexico in 2000 and 2004. Diaz specialized in the freestyle and individual medley events. He was an active student-athlete when he competed in the 200-meter free and 200-meter IM at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Four years later he raced as part of Mexico's 4x200 free relay team in Athens.
Although the 2008 Olympics were held a few weeks before he officially enrolled in West Lafayette, David Boudia's presence at the games that summer in Beijing gives Purdue men's swimming & diving an active streak of seven consecutive Olympics with a representative.
If Jinq En Phee or Kaersten Meitz can qualify for the Olympics later this month, Purdue would have a male swimmer and female swimmer make it for the first time since 2000.
Aćin enjoyed a breakout junior season for the Boilermakers, posting a career-best time of 19.38 in the 50-yard free to go along with his record time of 41.81 in the 100 free. He not only eclipsed a program record (42.84) in the 100 that had stood since 2013, he lowered the benchmark by more than a second by the end of the season. After winning silver in the event at the Big Ten Championships, Aćin qualified for the championship final of the 100 free at NCAAs to clinch All-America accolades. He was Purdue's first men's swimmer to accomplish the feat in an individual event since 2017.
Aćin was also a big reason why the Boilermakers earned All-American status in the 200 and 400 free relays this season. He has contributed to four All-American relays in his two appearances at NCAAs. Prior to 2019, Purdue had never had multiple All-American relays in the same season. Now the program has accomplished the feat at each of the last two national championship meets. At Big Tens, he has helped Purdue win relay medals in the 200 medley (bronze in 2019) and 200 free (silver in 2021). Aćin has been part of eight program-record times in relays over his first three seasons, including at least one record time in all five relays.
Swimming events at Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer are set for July 24 to 31. The 4x100 free relay is on the schedule for July 25 (prelims) and July 26 (final).