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The Scarlet & Black

Michael Brus breaks school record, aims for more

By David Kim

In order to beat the Grinnell College 1000-yard freestyle record on Feb. 4 against Coe College, Michael Brus ’14 would have had to swim every 50-yard lap in an average of 30 seconds. When he swam the race this past Friday, the swim team looked back and forth between Brus and his time on the scoreboard, wondering if this would be the day he finally put his name in the record book. It was.

First Year Michael Brus stands on a 3-meter diving board in the Russell K. Osgood Pool where he broke the school record in the 1000-yard freestyle – Andrew Kelley

With a time of 9:57.51, Brus broke the previous school record for the 1000-yard freestyle of 9:58.65, set by Dave Anderson in 1986. This is Brus’s first record-breaking performance, after many instances of coming close to all-time marks in several events.

“I didn’t expect that one to be the first record to be broken, but it’s a great feeling,” he said.

Head Coach Erin Hurley notes that though the record is impressive, the circumstances in which it was set make it even more so.

“Since I have been at Grinnell we have not had a male swimmer break a school record unless they were rested and tapered for the MWC Championships, until Michael did this Friday. We put him in that event because he had not done it yet this year for us, [and he won].”

According to Brus, he expected to break a 100 or 200-yard backstroke record, as that is comparatively his fastest stroke.

Brus, a first-year student from Davenport, Iowa, began swimming for local club teams as a six-year-old after being influenced by his older brother Steve, who is currently a senior swimmer at Notre Dame. His other hobbies include drawing, reading and running.

Despite being only a first-year, Brus is regarded as the fastest male swimmer on the team. Other team members praise him highly for his well-balanced talent and hard training.

“He never slacks off,” said Team Captain Cy Mistry ’11. “When I ask him to do extra training outside of swimming, he’s willing to do it. He’s got a really positive attitude about swimming.”

Fellow first-year swimmer Thomas Pritchard ’14 agrees.

“In practice he constantly encourages his teammates and he always keeps his good attitude,” Pritchard said.

According to Hurley, Brus’s many talents include positive attitude, eagerness to try any event, commitment and confidence.

“He is extremely versatile,” she said. “[The coaches’] challenge is figuring out where we can utilize him to best help the team. I would not say he has a big weakness. He has an incredible work ethic and supports his team in practice with verbal encouragement and with the intensity that he trains.”

Brus is still getting used to such high praises from coaches and players, despite having been the fastest swimmer in his high school. He mentioned that dealing with attention is one area of swimming at Grinnell in which he could improve.

“I notice [the attention],” he said. “It’s hard to explain because it’s always nice to be spoken highly of and being recognized but sometimes it’s a little hard just because I’m not used to it. It’s a little difficult getting used to.”

Another aspect that he believes he needs to sharpen is his technique.

“I need to focus on techniques because that’s the fastest way to get better,” Brus said. “Making sure I’m doing the stroke right, right form, pulling correctly, rotating enough [are all important].”

Assistant Coach Tim Hammond sees plenty of potential.

“As Michael learns more about training and he continues to test his abilities he will likely improve greatly,” Hammond said.

Aside from being known as the fastest swimmer on campus, Brus is also known as a humble and friendly person.

“He is legitimately the most modest swimmer I’ve ever met despite the fact that he’s really fast,” Mistry said. “I’ve never seen him down or sulking. He’s really goofy too.”

According to Brus, he wishes to continue his career in athletics, as he wants to become a physical therapist and a swim coach.

Right now, Brus’s main concern is making the Conference and National tournaments. Hurley shares and supports this goal.

“Beyond Conference, we are training him to qualify for the National Championships,” Hurley said. “This is something we would like to see from him over the four years [as] he is a huge asset for our program, our school and our conference.”

From Brus’s perspective, everything is an auxiliary of one primary goal.

“All I want to do is get faster,” Brus said. “That’s the point of swimming and practicing. Getting faster and having fun doing it, and I’ll be happy.”

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