Moody swimmer brings home European gold

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Spencer Gallien
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Some of the greatest discoveries are made by chance. For instance, Steve Wojciechowski "walked on" to Duke Basketball and ended up leading them to a national championship.

Fate took 22-year-old Airman Seth Novak by the hand three years ago when he was approached by a track coach at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. A few months later, he was part of the U.S. Air Force swim team, participating in an international competition against other country's Air Forces.

"It's funny how I became part of the U.S. Air Force team," said Airman Novak. "The coach came up to me at the chow hall and asked me if I was a high-jumper. I told him 'no, but I do swim,' he then referred me to the person in charge of the United States Air Forces in Europe's athletics."

That was then, now an Airman 1st Class, Airman Novak is an air crew flight equipment journeyman with the 23rd Fighter Group here. He also swims competitively at an international level each year.

Swimmers from USAFE and the continental United States send in applications with times and qualifications, Airman Novak said. Twelve applicants are then selected to represent the U.S. Air Force in competition against Air North; which consists of the Air Forces of Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland.

September 6-14, Airman Novak participated in a competition hosted by USAFE for his third year in a row at the city of Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

He finished first in the 50-meter freestyle, second in the 100-meter freestyle, and first in a 4-by-100-meter freestyle relay.

The U.S. Air Force men's team lost in a tie-breaker with Germany due to one less gold medal, finishing second overall.

"Every year USAFE holds this tournament to promote unity within Air North," said Airman Novak. "Not only that, but it's a way for Airmen to learn what military members from other nations do for their countries."

Airman Novak hasn't just been recognized internationally as a great swimmer, but also by his unit as an excellent Airman, said Tech. Sgt. Harold King, 23rd Fighter Group AFE flight NCO In-Charge.

"It brings the AFE shop a great level of pride that Airman Novak represented us so well at the Air Force level," said Sergeant King. "He finds time to be an exemplary Airman on all fronts, we are lucky to have him with his knowledge of our career field.

"When someone is as talented as Airman Novak, that talent seems to exude in all facets of life, and we will take great pleasure in watching his career mature," he added. "We expect him to have an amazing Air Force career."