Last fall Andrew Braun waited anxiously as several of his St. Xavier and Lakeside Swim Club teammates accepted offers to swim in college. The senior captain knew he was a Division-I talent but had yet to field an offer from a school that excited him.
Months passed and Braun kept plugging away in the pool.
“I was very motivated my senior season because, unlike most other guys, I hadn’t committed yet,” he said. “I couldn’t relax.”
The Tigers claimed their 23rd straight team state title in February and Braun, a middle distance specialist, took 2nd in the 200-yard individual medley (1:51.35) and placed 3rd in the 100 breaststroke (58.02). He also swam a leg on the winning 200 medley relay team (1:33.81).
It’s the Buckeyes!
Then in May, his patience and stellar senior season paid off when Ohio State coach Bill Wadley extended him an offer to join the Buckeyes, a Big Ten swimming power.
“I wanted to be close to home and the facilities at Ohio State are easily the nicest in the country,” said Braun. “It just felt right.”
With his protracted college search finally complete, Braun is now preparing to make an immediate impact when he reports to Columbus on Sept. 8.
“I spend an average of four hours a day in the water plus an hour doing dryland stuff: plyometrics, medicine ball, stretching, core work,” said Braun, who started competing with Lakeside as a 9-year-old.
Longtime Lakeside coach Mike DeBoor said Braun’s strength is his mastery of all four strokes and an ability to self-correct.
“He doesn’t have one superior strength, but he’s really put time and effort into improving his weaknesses,” said DeBoor.
Wadley is also impressed by Braun’s range and variety of strokes. “One of the more challenging things is to develop all of the different disciplines (freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly). That’s what makes Andrew so special – he possesses the ability to work on each stroke independently.”
Ohio State has finished in the top-20 nationally in each of the past 5 seasons and their 2011 recruiting class is ranked No. 5 by collegeswimming.com, behind only Stanford, Cal, Texas and Florida.
Contributing right away will be a tall order, but Wadley – who is entering his 23rd season at Ohio State – is keen on Braun. “We’ll certainly try to move him along as quickly as we can with the hope that he can develop into a freshman that is capable of scoring,” he said.
“I think he’ll swim both IMs for us (200 and 400) and the breaststroke. Beyond that, we’re going to be open to anything,” added Wadley. “He swims all of the strokes very well and he’s capable of competing with the best of the best.”
A 3.9 student in high school, Braun plans to major in biology with an eye toward medical school. He will room with fellow freshman and Lexington native Nick Wrightson.
Wrightson won three straight state titles in the 200-yard freestyle for Henry Clay.
Next week, Braun and four other highly regarded Lakeside swimmers will see how they stack up against the nation’s best when they travel to Palo Alto, Calif. for the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships to be held Aug. 2-6 at Stanford.
The meet features 9 Olympians and serves as a selection meet for the FINA World Junior Championships slated for Aug. 16-21 in Lima, Peru.
Leah Stevens, a freshman-to-be who has already made her 2012 Olympic Trial cuts in the 400 freestyle and 400 IM, is looking to earn a spot on the National Junior Team and will swim the 400 IM as well as the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle.
Devan Terry, a 2010 graduate of Male High who is entering his sophomore year at Alabama, will swim the 100 and 200 breaststroke as well as the 200 IM.
Mary Mittel, a sophomore at Louisville, will swim the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and the 50 and 100 freestyle.
Maclin Simpson, a sophomore at UK, will swim the 100 and 200 butterfly. He has qualified for the Olympic Trials in both.
Braun will compete in the 200 breaststroke, 200 IM and 400 IM.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.