It’s been a big past two weekends for Michael Brinegar.
The Indiana University redshirt junior from Columbus and 2021 Tokyo Olympian won the Men’s Senior Elite 10K event at the 2021 Las Vegas Open Water Champions Cup last weekend at Lake Las Vegas.
Then on Sunday, Brinegar was honored along with 14 other Olympians and Paralympians from the state of Indiana before and during the Indianapolis Colts’ home football game against the Houston Texans.
All of those Olympians, along with 15 other Indiana natives who competed in this year’s Olympics or Paralympics that were unable to attend, were given the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash award by Gov. Eric Holcomb in a meeting on Sunday morning at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It was a surprise,” Brinegar said. “I didn’t know I was receiving an award or anything. I was really honored to get it, especially from Gov. Holcomb.”
Last weekend’s open water event was hosted by the Sandpipers of Nevada, the top US open water and distance swim club, and is one of the biggest open water swimming competitions in the United States. The competition serves as a qualifier for the US National Open Water Championships and draws top competitors from around the country.
Brinegar, who is gearing up for his college season at IU, was swimming unattached because of NCAA rules. He finished the 10K (6.2 miles) in just over 1 hour, 40 minutes, to easily outdistance the competition.
“I was really happy with it,” Brinegar said. “It went a lot better than I thought it was going to go, so it gives me a big confidence boost for the rest of the season.”
Meanwhile, another Columbus native, Brady Beyer, finished second in the Boys 11-16 5K Junior event. Beyer, who swam for Columbus East as a sophomore last season, currently is in California training with the same Mission Viejo Nadadores club team that Brinegar has trained with for much of the past five years.
Both Brinegar and Beyer have qualified for the US National Open Water Championships, which will be held in April at Fort Myers Beach in Florida.
Five Club Olympia athletes also traveled to Las Vegas to compete in the open water, including Misha Machavariani, who swam in both the 2.5K and 5K Junior Boys events.
Machavariani finished seventh to earn a medal and finish on the podium in the 2.5K. The next day, he came back with a 10th-place finish in his first-ever 5K competition.
Josh Pendleton finished 23rd in the 2.5K event, while Todd Hundley took 35th, and Ty Mayer was 37th. This was the first ever open water competition for Pendleton, Hundley and Mayer.
Club Olympia’s Cole Ehara finished 20th in the 5K Junior Boys event.