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Monte Nitzkowski was born in Pasadena, California. His family later moved to Huntington Beach, where he graduated from Huntington Beach High school in 1947. Upon high school graduation, Nitzkowski attended Fullerton Jr. College where he was first introduced to water polo by United States Water Polo Hall of Fame Coach James R. Smith.

At Fullerton Monte competed in both water polo and swimming, becoming an All American Jr. College Swimmer and National Record holder as a member of the medley relay team. After two productive years at Fullerton Jr. College, Monte moved on to UCLA where he gained All Pacific Coast honors in water polo and captained the swimming team. While at UCLA, he set the Pacific Coast Conference record in the 200 yard butterfly.

Upon graduation with a BA Degree, Nitzkowski entered the United States Navy and was eventually stationed at the United States Naval Academy where he trained and made the 1952 United States Olympic Swimming Team, placing 9th in the 200 meter butterfly at the Helsinki Olympic Games. After the service, Monte entered graduate studies at Cal State University, Long Beach and received his Masters Degree and teaching credential in 1955.

He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1991.