Victory comes in all shapes and sizes.
For Deerfield High School swimmers Barbara Brottman and Ruby Powell it arrived in the form of personal accomplishment at the State Swim Meet Friday and Saturday in Evanston.
Earlier: Brottman Paces Warriors in State Meet
A senior who has competed in the State Finals all four years of high school, Brottman wanted to swim the 500-yard freestyle in less than five minutes. That did not happen.
What did happen was a personal best time of 5:01.08 in Friday’s preliminary round followed by a second personal best of 5:00.78 12 hours later in the finals, good for 10th place. She was still thrilled. ““I’m totally happy with the way I swam,” she said. “When I got in the water I felt good. I knew I could do it.”
She realized it was all possible when she had a breakthrough during the season. “I’d been hitting a plateau in the 500,” she said. “When I started hitting 5:15’s and 5:12’s instead of 5:22’s I knew I could make the times drop off.”
For Powell, she had the experience of a rookie State Meet behind her and returned as both a sophomore and a veteran. “I knew what to expect when I walked in this year,” she said. “Last year was so new.”
In both cases hard work and rigorous training made a difference. During practice, Brottman kept swimming timed laps to get her ready for improved performance in the 500.
“He (Coach John Sullivan) had me keep a pace of 1:05 for 20 100’s,” she said referring to swimming the equivalent of four races in a time fast enough to complete the event in 5:25. “That’s when I knew I could do it.”
Sullivan credits experience along with training as the ingredients enabling Brottman to swim two personal best times in a 12-hour span. “Maturity,” he said of the reason. “As an athlete she has been working this way for four years.”
Experience in the Evanston High School pool helped as well. It was the home of the State Meet two years ago. “The bottom (of the pool) is weird,” she said. “It’s tight and small and I knew I had to work on my turns. That’s what I did.”
As Brottman improved in the 500 over the season, it also helped her attain proficiency in her other event, the 200 freestyle where she powered her way to a ninth place finish Saturday.
In Powell’s case she not only excels in the pool with hopes of returning to the State meet in the future, but the sport transcends other parts of her life enriching her in a number of ways. “Swimming helps me in everything I do in my life,” she said.