Standing on the block waiting for the start of the boys 100-yard breaststroke Feb. 11 at the state swimming finals, Greenbrier High School’s Nick Brown wasn’t feeling like the favorite he was.
“I walked to the blocks and I was trembling and shaking, but I managed to pull it off,” said Brown, who won the race and became the school’s first state swim champion.
Brown entered the breaststroke final with the fastest previous time of the competing swimmers and was feeling the pressure to perform, but the heat wasn’t on for his other final.
“The (200-yard individual medley); I was very relaxed because I knew I had what it took to medal,” said Brown, who won second place.
He also swam a leg on the Wolfpack’s 200-yard medley relay team, helping them to a 13th-place finish.
Brown swims for two clubs as well as Greenbrier. He said the club meets are more for individual results, while school meets are about the team.
“High school meets you think more about the team than yourself,” he said. “You represent your high school. You’re more supportive of your teammates and they’re more supportive of you.”
Wolfpack coach Jason Lucey called him one of the most determined athletes he has seen in his 20 years as a swim coach.
“All of the guys on the team are pushed by him to work and compete hard,” wrote Lucey in an email. “He doesn’t act like the best ... breaststroker in the state. He acts like one of the guys trying to make his team the best in the CSRA and one of the best programs in the state.”
Between club and high school practices, Brown trains 320 days a year. School practices run more than two hours each day and on weekends. Club practices last more than five hours.
“Swimming is really not enjoyable unless you’re at a meet,” Brown said. “Training is really awful. The only way to get better at swimming is to deposit a lot of pain.”
As a junior, he placed 10th in the breaststroke and eighth in the individual medley. With all his work in the pool, though, he thinks his jump to the top came from somewhere else.
“I’ve gotten a little bigger. My club coach really kinda thinks I’ve made not just a physical breakthrough, because I’ve gotten stronger, but a mental breakthrough,” Brown said.
He hopes to attend the University of Georgia but also is considering Georgia Tech and has been contacted by Florida State and LSU.
“Swimmimg is one of those gateways into college,” he said. “If you’re good enough ... it really helps those colleges spark interest in you.”