INDIANAPOLIS — Michael Brineger pumped his fists over his head as he stood on the runner-up podium, ready to receive his silver medal.
Then, a contingent of local supporters roared their approval as the Columbus native was presented his medal for finishing second in the 1,500-meter freestyle Monday night on the final day of the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships at IUPUI’s Indiana University Natatorium.
“It was one of my better races. I don’t know if it was my best race, but I’m really happy with it. It’s a great feeling.”
Brinegar finished in a personal-best 15 minutes, 9.00 seconds, just 18-hundreths of a second ahead of bronze medalist Iaroslav Potapov of Russia. Brinegar’s American teammate, Andrew Abruzzo, won gold in 15:06.48.
Abruzzo already had won the 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle. Brinegar had won bronze in Friday’s 800 freestyle.
“I just wanted to make sure I didn’t go out too fast and not fade at the end,” Brinegar said. “I just wanted to make sure I could finish strong like I did in the 800.”
After 400 meters Monday, Brinegar was in eighth place among the eight swimmers in the 1,500 final. He steadlily progressed toward the front, moving into third after 700 meters and second after 1,000.
Brinegar briefly grabbed the lead at the 1,200 mark, but then Abruzzo began to pull away.
Brinegar’s first and last 100 meters were within a couple tenths of a second of 58.0. His middle 13 100s were within a few tenths of 1:01.0.
“That’s what was trying to do,” Brinegar said. “I just tried to stay consistent, and I was really just trying to be able to get a medal and hopefully second place if Andrew won or first place if he didn’t. I’m really happy that we were able to get 1-2.”
This was Brinegar’s first international competition in the pool. He won a silver medal for 7.5K in last year’s World Open Water Swimming Championships.
Brinegar said the indoor championships were a little different because there are more swimmers overall and on the U.S. team.
“But that just makes it more exciting and more fun, getting to watch everyone else swim fast,” Brinegar said. “Everyone is right there watching, so it’s a lot of fun. It’s been a really great experience. Everyone on the U.S. team here is really supportive, and it’s just a great atmosphere to be in.”
The natatorium was the venue where Brinegar won an Indiana high school state championship in the 500-yard freestyle as a freshman at Columbus North. He has spent most of the past two school years in southern California training with the Mission Viejo Nadadores club team.
Brinegar, who is set to begin his senior year at Tesoro High School in Las Flores, California, trains with Nadadores coach Mark Schubert. Schubert coached Brinegar’s mother Jennifer when she was in high school.
“Mark Schubert is probably the best coach in the country right now, and just being able to train with him has really helped me a lot,” Brinegar said. “I’ve dropped lots of time, and it’s really all because of him. It was kind of hard to (move away), but it was the best decision for my swimming career, so being second tonight just shows it was worth it.”