In the world of swimming, breaststrokers are known to be “characters.” Nelson Diebel is no exception! While he has ruffled feathers along the way, he has - at the same time - achieved an unmatched record of success swimming under Peddie swim coach Chris Martin. Nelson came to Peddie in 1986. Six short months after his arrival, he had won a national championship. Twelve months after that, Nelson surprised everyone by fighting his way into the finals of the 1988 Olympic trials in both the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke.
In his junior year, Nelson captured the first of his four Eastern Championships, this one in the 100-yard breaststroke. Just one month later, he won the first of his four national championships by winning the 200-yard breaststroke in open competition in Nashville, Tennessee. The amazing thing about these victories was that they came just six months after Nelson underwent extensive reconstructive surgery on his hands and wrists. As a senior, Nelson won three Eastern titles, setting the National High School record in the 100 yard breaststroke. At the Senior level, he repeated as indoor champion in the 200 breast and added the 100 title to his list of victories.
Nelson represented the United States in three international and national competitions. At the Pan American games last summer, he was a silver medalist. At the Olympic trials in March, he also won his event, the 100-meter breaststroke, in American record time. His 1:01.40 stood as the fastest American time ever in this event and qualified him to compete along with his roommate, Royce Sharp, in the XXV (25th) Olympic Games. After the games, Nelson continued his studies at Princeton University.