INDIANAPOLIS — Michael Brinegar’s Mission Viejo Nadadores club has been hosting a group of swimmers from the Chinese national team this month.

So when the Mission Viejo squad and the Chinese delegation came to Indianapolis on Wednesday for this weekend’s USA Swimming Arena Pro Swim Series event, Brinegar’s mother Jennifer thought she’d put together something special.

Jennifer Brinegar, a Columbus resident who coaches the Club Olympia swim team, talked at an early-morning practice with a few of her swimmers’ parents who work at Cummins. By the time she got to her job at Indiana University that day, they had arranged for a team dinner on Wednesday night in Lockerbie Square in Indianapolis.

“It’s one of those great things about Columbus, with a company like Cummins that has such an international reach that you can do something like this,” said Jennifer’s husband, Jamie Brinegar. “Not all the Chinese national team members speak English really well, so for them to have an opportunity while they’re here to be around other Chinese nationals who they can speak with, to feel a touch of home while they’re here, is a really great thing.”

Jamie and Jennifer’s son Michael is in his second year training in California with Mark Schubert, who coached Jennifer when she was in high school. Last year, Michael Brinegar and Schubert were at the Golden West Swim Club.

Schubert returned to Mission Viejo in October, and Michael came with him.

“He’s really swimming well, and it’s a big thrill for me because his mom swam for me at Mission Viejo,” Schubert said. “Now to have Michael swimming at Mission Viejo is really a special thing.”

Michael Brinegar, who won the state title in the 500-yard freestyle as a freshman at Columbus North, is attending Tesoro High School in Mission Viejo but is not swimming with its high school team. The high school season in California is just now starting, and the state meet is a weekend before open water nationals, which is a primary focus of his.

Jamie Brinegar said if Michael stays in California, he probably will swim for the Tesoro High School team next year, his senior year.

“I like all the guys I’m training with,” Michael Brinegar said. “They really push me in practice. I’ve made some good progress, and it’s really thanks to coach Schubert that I’ve been able to get as far as I have.”

Michael Brinegar spent last week training at the USA Swimming Junior National Team camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“It was a really good week of training,” he said. “We had a lot of fun, and it was a lot of hard work up there.”

The USA Swimming Arena Pro Swim Series event began Thursday and continues through Saturday at IUPUI’s Indiana University Natatorium. Michael Brinegar swam the 400-meter freestyle on Thursday and swims the 100 freestyle, 400 individual medley and 200 freestyle on Friday.

Saturday, Brinegar will swim his best event, the mile, along with the 200 butterfly.

“I want to drop time in some events and get close to dropping time in others,” he said.

Meanwhile, Schubert said it has been kind of fun to have a training camp with the athletes from China. The Chinese Swimming Federation set up the month-long training camp with Mission Viejo, which has hosted other national teams in the past.

Chinese coach Cai Li, through an interpreter, said swimming in America is very different experience because in China, everything is set up by the team. In the United States, everything they need to do, they can do by themselves.

“America is a really big country for swimming,” he said. “The workouts are really good, definitely better than in China.”

If you go

What: USA Swimming Arena Pro Swim Series

Where: Indiana University Natatorium, 901 W. New York St., Indianapolis

Schedule: Continues today and Saturday. Prelims begin at 10 a.m., and finals start at 7 p.m. both days.

Tickets: All-Session Pass is $60. Prelims are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 6 to 12. Finals are $15 for adults and $5 for kids 6 to 12. Children under 6 are free.

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