PSU student and two time cancer survivor returns to Swimming and Diving after 2 years away

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CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – After 2 long hard years, Niki Nolte was able to return to the place she calls her second home.

“There was definitely some moments where I was just like I don’t know if I’m ever going to get back into the pool,” said Nolte.

Nolte first started swimming at the age of 3. But she didn’t start competitively until the age of 7 after watching her sister compete on a summer swim team.

“I was always dragged along to the practices just because I wasn’t able to stay home alone of course at that age, so knowing that I was already going along to practices with her I was like why don’t I join,” said Nolte.

And so she did, and she immediately got addicted. Nolte soon was competing year round.

But in April of 2017, right around the time colleges were recruiting, Nolte was diagnosed with Lymphoma.

“It was definitely really hard to reach out to coaches during the recruiting process to tell them what was going on. I was just like hey, here’s what’s going on, this doesn’t change my future focus. I just have to get through this treatment,” said Nolte.

To which Penn State offered her a spot. And after 6 rounds of chemotherapy, Nolte was declared cancer free.

But only five weeks into her freshman year, “things didn’t seem right, I was getting some weird symptoms, bruising, overall very fatigued and tired,” said Nolte.

The cancer was back.

“They think that one of my chemotherapy drugs that I was given my first cancer mutated my cells and then gave me this cancer which was less than 1% chance of happening,” said Nolte.

And it all happened one day before her first swim meet.

“I was in so much pain and exhaustion that it was so hard to even get up to go to the bathroom. So hard to even get up and walk laps,” said Nolte.

But despite it all, she made a goal for herself.

“That I wanted to get back into the pool. I was going to do everything I can to get to the collegiate level I was at before,” said Nolte.

And after two years, she made it come true last month during her first collegiate swim meet.

“Oh my gosh it was so many emotions. Just having the adrenaline rush was something I missed and getting to experience it again is a moment I’ll never forget and it still gives me chills,” said Nolte.

For anyone else going through what she did Nolte says to keep a smile on your face and to remember that positivity is the best medicine.

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