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Men's swim team bonds through use of nicknames



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Senior Bryan Chovanec and sophomore Dan Kanorr practice with the swimming team Tuesday at the Student Recreational Sports Center. Alex Farris Buy Photos

As sophomore Daniel Kanorr reaches for the wall at the end of his race, he hears a rumble from above the water. He surfaces and realizes that the rumble is his teammates chanting.

CONDOR! CONDOR! CONDOR!

As has become his custom, Kanorr flaps his arms in triumph after a good race.

Soon after his arrival, both coaches and players easily noticed that Kanorr, who stands at 6 feet 6 inches, has incredibly long arms. Whenever he would raise his arms, teammates noticed his stunning resemblance to a condor, which has a great wingspan. Add in the fact that his last name also sounds a bit similar to “condor,” and the nickname fits perfectly.

“You can sometimes see it in him,” senior Bryan Chovanec said. “That’s just who he is. It’s kind of weird that way, and I think the nickname kind of picks the person.”

Nicknames have picked many other members of the team as well, such as senior Ante Zoricic, who has gone by “Zorro” for years. In fact, he became known as Zorro far before he set foot in Bloomington or in the United States.

His first swim coach in Croatia was the first to bestow the nickname upon him.

“That was kind of funny for a couple of months,” Zoricic said. “But then they continued calling me Zorro. Now even my parents call me Zorro.“

The various nicknames on the team range from junior John Schnittker’s moniker of Doodle (like a snickerdoodle cookie) to freshman James Wells’ nickname of Landry (he is the spitting image of Landry Clarke of NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”) to sophomore Jim Barbiere’s name of Dandy (he looks like a mix of Dale Earnhardt and Randy Johnson).

The swimmers all seem to enjoy the business of giving and receiving nicknames. Zoricic actually prefers to be called Zorro, partially because a large number of people mispronounce his first name.

Kanorr also gladly accepts his moniker. He said it has created a much more fun atmosphere than an ordinary and dull swim practice.

“People think that this is boring, but think about doing it with people you don’t know,” Chovanec said. “It would be really boring. As teammates, we need each other to get through the day.”

The guys in the pool aren’t the only ones who enjoy the nicknames. The coaches said they love calling the swimmers by their nicknames and even coming up with them.

IU coach Ray Looze said he thinks the nickname game is one of the best aspects of the team.

“It’s the way they bond, and it’s a way they bring themselves closer together,” Looze said. “It’s a sign of friendship. I think when you really like somebody, you have a nickname for them.”

The nicknames are a large part of the team’s great sense of humor, which Looze said he values greatly.

“I think whenever you have humor in anything, it helps bring people together,” Looze said. “Laughing is such a universal thing of successful organizations.”

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