The Norman North boys swim team is quite used to foreign exchange students. The school has at least one each year and sometimes more.
What the Timberwolves are not as used to is having a student from Italy come in and win four medals at regionals competition and put the Timberwolves in prime position to repeat as state champions as the state swim meet begins Friday.
Gianluca Di Tano captured medals in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke at last week's regionals. The senior also helped his relay teams to gold in the medley relay, where he did the backstroke and the 400 freestyle relay.
Norman North coach Kent Nicholson said Di Tano has come a long way with the team, fitting right in with his new teammates.
Di Tano arrived in Norman in August, and when he signed up for his schedule, swimming was the top of the list.
“He chose swimming and he was on my team,” Nicholson said. “And he was fast.”
Nicholson already had fast swimmers. Justin Wu set a record in the 200 freestyle last season as Norman North took state. Wu, now a junior, is trying to do the same in 2014.
But even on a state championship team, Di Tano has still made his mark.
“We really enjoyed his hard work,” Nicholson said. “He's got talent in the sport and worked very hard this year.”
Nicholson, who also coaches Norman High, says the talent at this weekend's state championship meet is going to be tough.
“The (Edmond) North teams, they're in a battle to win,” Nicholson said. He added his Norman North boys team knows they have what it takes to win another championship but they also know Bartlesville is very good.
The Edmond Aquatic Center, which opened earlier this month, will host the state championships. Preliminaries take place Friday morning at 10:30 and the championships on Saturday.