Nick Kaschik ’98 made us all feel like we could be winners. A championship swimmer, he was struck by a rare brain virus and prolonged coma at age 13, and as a result was forced to relearn everything from walking to his family members' names. Armed with extraordinary grit and courage, he was determined to return to the pool to swim stronger than ever before.
Kaschik enrolled at Peddie in 1994 and was able to succeed in the classroom and excel in the pool. His ability to deliver clutch performances earned him a spot on the Star Ledger's Team of the Century and made him the backbone of Peddie swimming. He led the Falcons to four straight Eastern Interscholastic crowns, capturing four individual golds in the 200-yard individual medley, three in the 100 breaststroke and contributing key legs on six championship relays. Add in a pair of Swimming World's National Prep Team titles, a 10th place finish in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200-meter individual medley and Most Valuable Swimmer honors at U.S. Nationals (1996), and it is easy to understand why much of the 1990s could aptly be called the Kaschik Era. Kaschik still holds the school mark in the 200IM (1:48.10) set in 1998, an Easterns standard that stayed on the record board until 2016.
As a political science major at the University of Southern California, Kaschik was an All-American and eight-time PAC 10 finalist. Legendary USC head coach Mark Schubert was most proud of Kaschik for not just graduating from high school, but “for being able to come to USC and succeed academically. That’s amazing.”
The swimming community was saddened by Kaschik's passing from acute heart failure on August 20, 2011, at age 33. As a freshman at Peddie, Kaschik fought off nicknames and declared that he would be known as Nick "The Real Thing" Kaschik. In a memorial service at Ayer Memorial Chapel, Patrick Dennis ’98 said, “There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Nick was the real thing - the real swimmer, the real fan, the real friend, the real brother, the real uncle, the real fiancé, the real miracle, the real inspiration."