Northeastern's Levi Morgan commits to swim at NCAA Division I level for Niagara

Levi Morgan

When he made his recruiting visit, Northeastern High School senior Levi Morgan knew he would fit right in at the University of Niagara.

While COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in the recruitment process by eliminating official visits set up by coaches, when Morgan stepped on the sprawling campus in western New York he felt at home.

“This is somewhere I could definitely see me going,” said Morgan, a standout swimmer who plans to study nursing at the university.

After months of emails, phone calls and even Zoom meetings, Morgan made his declaration official by signing his letter of intent with the NCAA Division I Purple Eagles last month.

“I spoke with coach (Eric) Bugby and I was just impressed with how much effort he put into the Zoom calls with the team,” Morgan said. “I couldn’t obviously visit him, but I visited through the school and I was just impressed with the dedication as well as it being an already established team.”

The University of Niagara, located just a few miles away from Niagara Falls, wasn’t initially Morgan’s top choice, although it was always in the top two. He instead had thoughts in his mind of being closer to a warmer body of water while at school.

“For a while I thought I was going to be at the beach,” he said. “But then I realized that I probably don’t want to be there because I can’t stand the heat after a few days.”

Joining the York YMCA team: Morgan, who qualified for the PIAA Class 3-A Championships as a junior in the 50 freestyle, has been preparing for his future with the help of coach John Nelson at the York YMCA. The Bobcat standout joined the prestigious Y team shortly after the 2020 high school season concluded.

The decision to swim with the Y team, however, means that Morgan will not participate with his high school squad this season. Northeastern and York Suburban are among the schools that require team members to participate in all of the squad’s practices during the season.

His practices with the Y team, however, would conflict with the school’s schedule, so it came down to a choice of one or the other.

“I talked with some of the Y kids and I know that high school is fun, but swimming with the Y team will really take you further,” he said. “Eliana Josey and Daniel Gordon really helped me and I talked to them about it and they were the ones that kind of pushed me to give the Y a try. Thankfully I did it, because I just love it at the Y.”

Recording personal best: Working with Nelson has already made noticeable differences for a sprint swimmer such as Morgan. At the last meet of the 2020 season back in early December, Morgan set a personal-best time in the 50 free of 20.72 seconds.

“You couldn’t ask for much more in a coach,” Morgan said of Nelson. “He’s just super dedicated to everyone swimming in the program and he doesn’t pick favorites and I respect that a lot.”

Niagara competes in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Purple Eagles were 1-6 a season ago.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.