Freshman swimmer wins 500-yard freestyle state title

INDIANAPOLIS — Not more than a few minutes after winning the 500-yard freestyle in Saturday’s Boys Swimming State Finals, Michael Brinegar was being summoned for the customary post-race winner’s interview with the IHSAA Network.

There was one small problem, however. Brinegar, a freshman at Columbus North, was in the very next race.

Thankfully for Brinegar and the Bull Frogs, meet officials held up the start of the 200 freestyle relay so the interview could be conducted.

This was Brinegar’s time to shine.

Brinegar finished in 4 minutes, 24.92 seconds, winning by more than four seconds and breaking the school record he set in Friday night’s preliminaries. He came into the state meet as the No. 1 seed, but fell back to the No. 2 seed after the preliminaries.

“I think I had a lot more adrenaline today,” Brinegar said of Saturday’s performance.

Earlier in the meet, Brinegar finished eighth in the 200 freestyle. Following the 500 freestyle, he anchored the 11th-place 200 freestyle relay and 12th-place 400 freestyle relay teams.

The freshman admitted to being nervous before his first high school state swim meet.

“This is a completely different atmosphere than any other meet I’ve been at. It was kind of nerve-racking,” Brinegar said.

But competitive swimming is in his blood.

Jennifer Brinegar, his mother, swam for the United States in the 1976 Olympics and coaches the age-group swimmers at Donner Swim Club.

“He’s very passionate about the sport,” Jennifer Brinegar said of her state-champion son.

She and husband Jamie don’t have to push Michael to be a top-flight swimmer.

“We let him do his thing, and when he wants to swim really well, he can,” she said.

The event title is a record 74th for Columbus/Columbus North and the third in three years for the Bull Frogs. Cody Taylor won the 100 breaststroke in the state meet the past two years.

“We still have kids that will put in the work and the time and the effort, and the families do the same to have state champions come out of Columbus,” Bull Frogs coach Jim Sheridan said.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.