Forde Siblings Aiming for 400 IM All-American Goals

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Clayton, Brooke and Mitchell Forde come from a very swimming-centric family. This year Clayton and Brooke aim for All-American spots in the same event. Photo Courtesy: Forde Family

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The 400 IM is one of the most grueling events in swimming, something most swimmers stay away from. But not the Forde family. Brooke and Clayton Forde have become two of the top 400 IM swimmers in the country and could become a rare sibling duo to accomplish something huge at the end of the season.

Both will challenge to become All-Americans, but with the right swim, the top of the podium is not out of the realm of possibilities for either of them.

“That would be pretty awesome. If there was an ideal scenario, that would be it. We have not ever talked about it,” Brooke Forde told Swimming World. “It’s kind of fun having the Fordes in the 400 IM across the country. Growing up, we were on the same club and had little challenges to see who would win more races. It is not usually something we talk about.”

Brooke is a junior for Stanford, where she won the NCAA title in the 500 freestyle last year and also finished third in the 400 IM. As a freshman in 2018, she finished fourth in the 400 IM and was a B-Finalist in the 500 at NCAAs.

“There have been a lot of confidence growth to me, going from freshman year being scared to swim at this stage to now,” Brooke said. “I made Pan Pacs and that helped me gain confidence, which helped me at NCAAs last year. Then having a good personal NCAAs was that next step. It brings higher expectations of myself.

I want to be one of the best swimmers at NCAAs and not feel out of place saying that.”

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Photo Courtesy: Forde Family

Clayton is a Georgia senior aiming to reach the levels of his sister. He was 25th in the 400 IM at NCAAs in 2018 and last year was a tenth off of scoring, placing 17th. But this year he swam his lifetime best at the Tennessee Invite.

“It is honestly not something I think a ton about. I would love to get 3:40 in the 400 IM and make the top eight at NCAAs. I have never scored at NCAAs, so I would love to do that,” he said. “Just having the right swim in the morning is the key, which is easier said than done. I am more than capable, I just have to put the right race together at the right time.”

So far, so good this season. Brooke is ranked second in Division I at the halfway point in the season while Clayton is ranked fourth.

“It has been a really good season,” Clayton said. “We had our invite before Thanksgiving and that helped me out. I had my best midseason meet by quite a bit, so I am happy with it. Having the meet before Thanksgiving helped and I actually got more rest in years past. Last year, I wasn’t in the position to make the meet before SECs, so I was a little off after having to do a double taper.”

Brooke and Clayton have an older brother, Mitchell, who swam at Missouri, along with their mother, Tricia, who swam at Northwestern. Their father, Pat, is a writer for Sports Illustrated and has covered swimming at the Olympic Games. That creates a very swimming and sports-oriented household.

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Clayton, Brooke and Mitchell Forde. Photo Courtesy: Forde Family

“Swimming is a huge part of our family. It takes up a lot of the family dinner conversations for sure. Sports for sure across the board. That carries over into swimming,” Brooke said. “I am probably the least into swimming than the rest of my family, if that makes sense. They are really into times. I don’t know my best times half the time.”

Siblings swimming well is nothing unordinary in swimming, from the Walsh sisters to the Foster brothers, and even all the way back to Dana and Tara Kirk making the 2004 Olympic team. But usually the siblings are the same gender. It is less common that a brother and sister would have similar success, in the same event nonetheless.

“It has been really exciting for me to see how well Clayton is doing. We aren’t super talkative, but we text and check in with each other. He works so hard, investing himself more than anyone I know, which is saying a lot. To see it coming together early is really exciting after qualifying last minute last year.”

Brooke has also put together strong swims to not worry about making the NCAA meet.

“It has been a really solid fall for me. Nothing out of this world as far as my times. Nothing wow, but that is not what I expect in the fall,” she said. “What I base my judgment on is more from training. I have had a really solid fall of work and I feel super strong and in shape. That is more what I should be looking at. So I am feeling good about it. Typically, since I train more distance, it is easier to be more broken down going into midseason. 

“I am training all four strokes all the time so I am not narrowing my focus yet. That is something that helps me put together great performances later in the season.”

Clayton is looking to do the same, emulating his sister.

“I think it is really cool that we are on both coasts. To be at a high caliber meet like nationals and run into your sister on deck is pretty cool. Our whole family is a swimming family. That has always been our thing.”

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john m razi
3 years ago

So excellent !!!!! What a family ! Total team ! Dad, fantastic writer-columnist.

Jimmy Egan
3 years ago
Reply to  john m razi

The Forde siblings have attitudes to appreciate, model work ethic and seem so well grounded! Great job Mom and Dad!! Good luck at the NCAA meet and Olympic trials.