By Josh Sigler
Russiaville — Through their collective actions and achievement over the passage of time, some families inevitably become synonymous with various facets of life.
For the Andrettis, it’s open-wheel racing. For the Kennedys, it’s politics.
In western Howard County, for the Browns, it’s swimming.
The daughter of an Ivy League swimmer and the sister of a two-time state champion, Western junior Summer Brown is writing her own chapter to an already storied family album.
“Swimming has always just been a part of our family,” Summer said. “I remember a lot of happy times. I just remember being so proud of the fact that I could call Teddy my brother when he won at state. It was awesome that I could tell people that. I’m sure my younger brother [freshman] Glen was proud of that, too. Teddy is an inspiration to me and Glen is the one who trains with me and makes me better. I wouldn’t be where I am without them, or my coaches and teammates, either.”
Summer finished second in the 100-yard freestyle and third in the 200 freestyle in last week’s Noblesville Sectional, making the state cut in both events to advance to the state finals in two events for the third straight year. The state finals begin at 6 p.m. Friday and the top 16 in each event move on to Saturday’s finals. The state meet is at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis.
“There was a lot of excitement,” Summer said. “Every year, my goal is to make it to state as well as better my times. I’m proud of myself for being able to make it to state each year. My only hope is that I swim my best every race. That’s really all I can ask of myself.”
Summer earned state finals berths in the 500 freestyle and 200 freestyle as a freshman, finishing 13th in both events in her first trip to the Natatorium.
A season ago, she advanced to state in the 200 free and 100 free, taking fifth in the 200 free in 1:51.69 and seventh in the 100 free in :52.28.
She’s already knocked .25 seconds off of her 200 free time from last year’s state finals, as well as .33 seconds off of her 100 free time.
“Summer’s development as a swimmer has been impressive,” Western coach Brad Bennett said. “The focus she has from the beginning of the season, as far as intensity and desire to improve is at a very high level. The amount of mental fatigue she’s able to combat and fight through to improve times and work on the things she needs to is more rare than most of the people at her level. Her mental drive, day in and day out regardless of whether it’s practice or a meet, is rare.”
Bennett was an assistant on Western’s 2003 swim team, where Summer’s older brother, Teddy, won state titles in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle before claiming the IHSAA’s Herman F. Keller Mental Attitude Award.
“There are many similarities between the two of them,” Bennett said of Summer and Teddy. “They’re very focused on [whatever] part of their life their working on. I know Summer better, but Teddy struck me as fully committed to everything he did. He would swim has hard as he could in every drill. Summer is very similar in that respect.”
While Teddy and Summer’s father, Ted. Sr., swam at Princeton University, Teddy went on to swim at Notre Dame, where he was a team captain and All-Big East honoree.
Teddy is proud of the way his sister has carved out her own identity in the family’s signature sport.
“I’ve always prided myself on working hard and controlling what I can control,” Teddy said. “Growing up, what I hoped I accomplished in the pool is that I trained hard every day and I was ready to swim on the biggest stages of my career. My hope is that [Glen and Summer] was able to see through my actions that I worked hard and was dedicated. I made sacrifices in order to not only better myself in the pool, but also do the best that I could in school so that I could succeed at the collegiate level and beyond.”
The strive for excellence has had a trickle-down effect on the current generation in the Brown family.
Teddy is currently a resident in the University of Michigan’s Department of Pathology. Like his younger sister, he can trace the roots of his work ethic back to his family and the pool at Western High School.
“Growing up, it was our parents who really instilled in us that we need to own what we can control,” Teddy said. “I’ve always felt that swimming has impacted our character. Swimming has a funny way of shaping not only our lives, but most of the swimmers I knew growing up. ... My brother and sister [and I] know what hard work means. It translates into real life situations, and I fall back on my swimming background when I have long days at the hospital. At times when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I remember back to my swimming days that you don’t make excuses for yourself. You just get the job done.”