He’s spent the past two years in southern California, but Michael Brinegar has watched the resurgence of Indiana swimming from afar.
That resurgence under coach Ray Looze has seen the Hoosiers turn out Olympic gold medalists Lilly King, Cody Miller and Blake Pieroni. Brinegar hopes to join them on the medals stand at the 2020 Olympics.
The Columbus native will try to take the same path as that trio by competing in Looze’s program at IU. Brinegar committed last week to swim for the Hoosiers beginning in the 2018-19 season.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to train alongside and learn from 2016 Olympic gold medalists Blake Pieroni, Cody Miller and Lilly King, as well as current USA World Championship team member Zane Grothe,” Brinegar said. “I am also looking forward to joining several of my former Indiana age group friends and competitors to train and compete together.”
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Brinegar is the son of 1976 Olympic gold medalist and former IU swimmer Jennifer (Hooker) Brinegar. She is a longtime IU assistant athletics director and currently is the school’s senior assistant AD for enrollment services.
The younger Brinegar made waves as a freshman at Columbus North in 2015 when he captured the state title in the 500-yard freestyle. The past two years, he has trained with the Mission Viejo (California) Natadores under coach Mark Schubert, who coached Jennifer when she was in high school.
Michael Brinegar earned high school All-American honors this winter, just as he did in 2015. He was last year’s Speedo Junior National 800 freestyle champion and the FINA Junior World Open Water 7.5K silver medalist.
The past two years, Brinegar has been a member of the USA Swimming Junior National team. He just recently made the USA Swimming Junior World Championship team in both the 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle events.
Brinegar plans to stay in California for his senior year before returning to southern Indiana.
“The atmosphere of championship expectations is one I look forward to joining, and I cannot thank Mark Schubert enough for preparing me for this next step,” he said.
Some of the recent highlights of Michael Brinegar’s swimming career:
— 2015 Indiana high school state champion, 500-yard freestyle
— 2015 and 2017 High School All-American
— 2015-16 and 2016-17 USA Swimming Junior National team member
— 2016 Speedo Junior National 800 freestyle champion
— 2016 FINA Junior World Open Water 7.5K silver medalist
— 2017 USA Swimming Junior World Championship team member, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle