Nick Albiero was never really hiding who he was, he just didn’t feel the need to have some big coming-out party.

Now the gay two-time NCAA champion for the University of Louisville, and current Olympic-hopeful swimmer, is talking more publicly about being a gay athlete because, after all of these years, he’s simply ready to do so.

“I felt like there was a time for this, and I don’t think I was ready for this five years ago,” he told Outsports from his home in Louisville.

Albiero should be no stranger to people who follow elite-level swimming, most notably the NCAA. The butterfly specialist for the University of Louisville has won two national championships, and he has the very rare distinction of being a five-time conference champion in one event — 200-yard butterfly in the ACC. Thanks to the additional eligibility created by the NCAA due to the COVID pandemic response, he was able to swim competitively for five years and earn an MBA.

In fact, at the 2022 ACC Championships, he swam the second-fastest 200-yard butterfly time ever, anywhere in the world; Though it’s important to note most of the world swims the 200-meter.

His two NCAA championships, both in 2021: the 200-butterfly and, as a team, the 200 medley relay. He was the ACC’s Men’s Swimmer of the Year twice.

Albiero is one of the most-decorated swimmers in the history of Louisville Cardinals athletics.

All of this points to a young man with a real shot at taking the world stage. This year he will compete at Team USA trials that will decide who goes to the World Championships, and then the Pan-American Games held in October in Chile.

“The goal is to make one of those meets,” Albiero said. “And after that is obviously Olympic Trials.”

It was last June, after experiencing Louisville Pride with his sister, that Albiero — in a relationship with another man at the time — decided to finally come out on Instagram, sharing a picture of himself decked out in rainbows.

That was Albiero’s first Pride celebration, and it was utter joy.

“It was really fun. I felt very at-home. Everyone was accepted, and you could just be who you were. It was such a cool atmosphere.”

While he came out to some friends and a couple close teammates at the University of Lousville his freshman year, he had still been concerned about his entire team knowing about him. Teasing at his Christian high school and middle school had left powerful marks on him.

“The kids there, the boys, they’d say some pretty mean things,” he said. “My voice is a little higher and most of my friends are girls, and I acted a certain way that’s different. I was teased about those things growing up.”

Despite the teasing, as he’s slowly come out to people in swimming, and then on Instagram and in a TV interview, he says he has had zero negative feedback from people around the pool.

“And that was something that was holding me back, because of the locker room talk and being on deck in a speedo, I didn’t want people to think of me differently or act differently around me. It held me back. But I haven’t received anything negative at all.”

Albiero has a sponsorship deal with swimwear company Tyr, and he’s also entered into a fundraising partnership with fundraiser JP Davis.

We at Outsports wish Nick nothing but the best as he chases his World Championship and Olympic dreams.

You can find Nick Albiero on Instagram and on Twitter.