By Nick Brunelli
MELBOURNE, Australia, January 5. LOOKING at what I saw on day one of the Victorian Championships, I knew today was going to be tough for some. Watching the USA Junior Team getting fired-up yesterday for racing was great, but it also was draining.
Some people don't really understand how much energy you exert when screaming at the top of your lungs any chance you get to cheer on a teammate. I heard many swimmers with hoarse voices this morning, and saw lots of them looking very tired. It's hard not to get excited cheering for someone and making them feel like no one has a chance to beat them, especially for someone standing on that block with USA written on their cap. Today, the team has learned when to cheer and when it's time to focus on what's best for them.
Today's events went very well. Many of the kids swam best times causing college coaches to look in their direction. Many of these young swimmers are still in high school. A lot of the talk outside the pool is about who is going where and what college visiting trips they want to take when they get back to the states. It's a very exciting time for some of them. Change is happening soon and for most of them it will be for the better.
The statistic going around is that one out of every six Junior Team athletes will make an Olympic team in the coming years. Over the past 10 years, the USA Junior National Swim Team program has produced some very familiar names. Names like Ryan Lochte, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker, Erik Vendt, Natalie Coughlin and Kate Ziegler have been Junior National Team members. Who on the Junior Team in 2008 will be the next Lochte or Natalie?
Just to mention the first Junior Team Record to fall this week is the 100 free: Evan Reed. 50.9. Way to go Evan!!!
Nick Brunelli is a member of USA Swimming's National Team attending the meet as a Senior Mentor.
In 2005, Brunelli was ranked fifth in the world in 50m free and ninth in 100m free. He broke the American record in the 50 SCM with a 21.18 just .08 off the world record at the time. In 2006, he suffered a shoulder separation and recently made strong showings at USA Nationals with a 22.01 in the 50 LCM and 19.17 yard at the University of Texas Invitational.