When Michael Brinegar finished sixth among 18-and-under swimmers in the 10,000 meters in the Open Water Nationals in April, he thought he had made the USA Swimming National Junior Team.
But until Wednesday, Brinegar was worried his spot might not be secure.
So when the team was announced Wednesday, and he was on it, the Columbus North sophomore breathed a sigh of relief.
“I knew I was top six, but they could have changed the rules, and I might not have been on it,” Brinegar said. “I was nervous because I was the sixth person. I didn’t know if they might decide to cut it down. I had been waiting on them for so long to confirm it, it was great to know I was on it.”
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The news came as a late birthday present for Brinegar, who turned 16 on Tuesday.
“It’s exciting to be on this team because there are a lot of other good 18-and-unders on this team,” Brinegar said.
Brinegar put himself in position to be on the national team by swimming his first-ever 10K in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 48.49 seconds at the Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club in Fort Myers, Florida.
“We were thrilled that he was able to do that,” said Brinegar’s mother, Jennifer, who represented the USA at international meets, including the 1976 Olympics. “I don’t know if it was really a goal of his because he had never swam a 10K. I was anxious to see how he would swim 10,000 meters because he had never done that before.”
Jennifer Brinegar has been coaching her son the past week at his 7:30 to 9:15 p.m. workouts at North’s Chick Newell Natatorium. Michael Brinegar, who won the state high school 500-yard freestyle title as a freshman and has a 2016 Olympic trials cut in the 1,000-meter freestyle, spent the summer in California, training with Golden West Swim Club.
Golden West is coached by Mark Schubert, who coached Jennifer when she was in high school. Schubert has been emailing workouts to Michael, who recently returned to the pool after a few weeks off.
With his addition to the National Junior Team, Michael Brinegar will get to go to the U.S. Junior National Select Camp next spring in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In addition to swimming, the camp will help swimmers with social media training, awareness of banned drugs and supplements and dryland training.
“I think it will help his development,” Jennifer Brinegar said. “It will be at altitude, so that will help, as well.”
“I will be a lot more experienced with the best 18-and-unders,” Michael Brinegar said. “I will get a lot of good training tips and become the best swimmer I can.”
Name: Michael Brinegar
School: Columbus North
Family: Parents Jamie and Jennifer, brother Kevin. Jamie ran track and Yale, Jennifer swam at Indiana University and Kevin swims at Denison.