What Is It Like Being the NBC On-Air Reporter at the World Aquatic Championships?

In the SwimSwam Podcast dive deeper into the sport you love with insider conversations about swimming. Hosted by Coleman HodgesGarrett McCaffrey, and Gold Medal Mel Stewart, SwimSwam welcomes both the biggest names in swimming that you already know, and rising stars that you need to get to know, as we break down the past, present, and future of aquatic sports.

We sat down with NBC’s Nick Zaccardi, who interviewed most of Team USA’s athletes at the world championships just seconds after they finished competing. Zaccardi, who almost exclusively works on the written side of news, was asked to step into this on-camera role last minute and welcomed the challenge. He explains how he moved through the week and what tips and tricks he was able to pick up along the way.

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Music: Otis McDonald
www.otismacmusic.com

Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the interviewed guests do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the hosts, SwimSwam Partners, LLC and/or SwimSwam advertising partners.

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#AthleteLivesMatter
1 month ago

The 2020 Olympics had the worst ratings in the USA of any Olympics since 1988.₁ The recent announcement that NBC’s Olympic Channel is shutting down after 5 years₂ proves that the American people are rejecting NBC’s coverage of sports. NBC has a contract with USOPC to cover the Olympics for the United States at least thru 2032.₃ However, NBC’s ratings are dropping rapidly along with CNN’s.₄ One news network that is growing its ratings is the Fox News Channel.₅ Say what you want, but this is evidence of people voting with their feet, or in this case, with their TV remotes. The American people are overwhelmingly rejecting NBC and their political injections into sports news. Americans are flocking to Fox… Read more »

Joel
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
1 month ago

As an outsider looking in, if those reporters can’t report accurately on general news, how are they going to suddenly report accurately on sports news?

Jonathan
1 month ago

I’m probably gonna get a lot of downvotes for this, but I actually really like Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines as our commentators for swimming. I get that a lot of people don’t like them because they cater more to the casual fan base, but to me they’ve never wavered from imparting their passion and excitement for the sport of swimming in the broadcast. I doubt this would be better served by having only people from the swimming community on the broadcast.

The real shame is that we can rarely get Dan Hicks for many meets. While I appreciate having Jason Knapp as a consistent play by play voice for most major USA meets outside of Olympics and Olympic… Read more »

Walter Sobchak
1 month ago

I felt that Nick improved significantly as the meet went on — especially his confidence, his on-air presence, and his questions.

Nick said in the Coleman interview that he closely follows SwimSwam articles and podcasts. That’s pretty good preparation.

Some people like Elizabeth Beisel. IMHO she’s just a little too enthusiastic and over the top for television.

I agree with Braden (and disagree with the “Gold Medaled One”) that it’s good to have some non-swimming community people in these on-air jobs. For example, Ambrose would be a very good candidate for replacement.

Admin
1 month ago

Nick’s a standup reporter. I respect him and his work. HOWEVER (and this is my opinion alone, and I don’t know that I’ve even shared this opinion with peers at SwimSwam), I think the host, analyst and on-deck reporter should be from the swimming base. That’s our face to the world during our most important moments. It is our SWIM BRAND. USA Swimming has the means to develop talent from within, and, frankly, they have done that to a large degree already via PRO SWIMS, OPENS, & the Olympic Trials in-house show, etc.. While this might seem like a big ask of any network telecast, network sports does not know our sport as well as you might think (and they… Read more »

Stating the Obvious
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
1 month ago

This is a brutal comment by the founder of the website after asking him to appear as a guest on your site. This reads like a set-up that he was invited so there’d be a place to comment he should’ve never had the job. That’s exactly what’s being said here: Respect you, but you shouldn’t have been there.

There’s nothing wrong with your opinion, but posting it here after he appeared on your platform is in horrendous taste.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stating the Obvious
swimapologist
Reply to  Stating the Obvious
1 month ago

Nick is a professional. As a professional in this particular field, do you believe that he would want Mel to be anything other than honest?

Nick and Mel both have the same stake in the future of Olympic sports.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Stating the Obvious
1 month ago

I had the same impression. Nick was superior to any of the others in that role recently, yet he’s the one we say shouldn’t have been there? I still have the Tokyo tapes and have been watching them since worlds ended. Michele Tafoya’s questions and themes were comparatively laughable.

And the last thing we need is a swimming world shill who is afraid to ask the difficult questions. Mel’s description fell smack in line with that inevitability. It has been happening with Lewis Johnson on track and field. He’s too close to the sport and he’s a nice guy who doesn’t worry about job security, so these days it’s too much happy talk. He’ll no longer ask the difficult question… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

…I should add that my comment, outside of this platform, is a bit like shouting into the wind. I am fully aware that sports networks develop their in-house non-swimmer talent on events like swimming (smaller, non-traditional sports). I don’t think sports networks will change how they do business to accommodate the wants of a niche sport. I think networks might – a big might – consider it if swimming provided a long-term plan, a good reason why it would benefit the network in the long run.

mds
Reply to  Stating the Obvious
1 month ago

Nick seems to be a “big boy” and I’m sure he can handle Mel’s spot on commentary, which even opened with a strong compliment. He didn’t criticize Nick; he just spoke about how we might seek to better use available tools to advance our sport. If NBC was smart they would recognize the value to themselves in using available “talent” actually steeped in the field rather than brought in from outside.

Reply to  Stating the Obvious
1 month ago

…I didn’t consider that, and I think it’s 100% fair for you to say. But, as you framed it, that was not my intention. I actually love that Nick does his job well. In fact, I think he did a better job at WC than many on-deck reporters in recent memory. Still, my opinion on the topic remains. It is one I’ve had for many many years.

Admin
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
1 month ago

I’m not sure I fully agree (for those who don’t know, Mel and I disagree a lot :-)). I think sometimes that swimming people have shown the inability for ingenuity, creativity, and understanding of how to appeal to broader markets, and I think that having only swimming people on the broadcasts can risk furthering the stagnancy in the sport’s presentation.

ISL had a swimming person in this role, and it was really not good.

I like the idea of a mixture of individuals. I think that diversity can lead to a better overall result, if it’s the right people. We’ve had some non-swim individuals in that role in the past and it wasn’t great. Nick understands Olympic sports, however, and… Read more »

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

I think this is the right take. Back when I watched a lot more sports in general, I used to really get tired of all the former athletes they’d bring in just because they were athletes. They have to also be good at communicating to do that job well! But on the other hand, someone could be a great broadcaster but if you don’t know the sport, that’s also not really any better.

But I will also say I think there is often negative value in the broadcaster that just brings up their old buddies and pals during the broadcast with no context. Everyone’s gonna know what I’m talking about, but in one of the distance races last week we… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Nolan
FST
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
1 month ago

American reporters who cover swimming should just be sent to intern in Australia for six months or so.

Hooked on Chlorine
Reply to  FST
1 month ago

Australia has the best swimming commentators in the world and has done for years. Compare our coverage of the Tokyo Olympics to the American coverage. There is no comparison.

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Hmm, having to cover stuff differently when you work for a network that’s airing that sport, eh?

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Dan
1 month ago

Great job, Nick.

Old Bruin
1 month ago

Nick got better as the meet went on. I have followed him on Twitter for years–he’s on top of Olympic sports and does a great job, often I learn interesting facts and breaking news from him first. I’m sure he’ll improve on TV as well if given the chance.

mds
Reply to  Old Bruin
1 month ago

I especially agree with the “got better as the meet went on” part of this comment. I was a little disappointed that his primary concerns about his shortcomings were the status of remarkably irrelevant things such as his credential and ear fob.

Marcy Spann
1 month ago

imo Nick Zaccardi did a more than awesome job interviewing team USA at worlds & I would love to see him again on a regular basis on nbc swimming events 😊😊😊 he’s a heck of a lot more knowledgeable & does his hw more on the sport than most of the other nbc sports commentators

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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