By Tribune sports staff
Indianapolis — With a large faction of family and friends in attendance, Western junior Summer Brown put forth a pair of outstanding performances in Saturday’s IHSAA girls swimming state finals, finishing second in the 200-yard freestyle and sixth in the 100 freestyle to make the podium in both events.
“The day was full of excitement,” Brown said. “I just wanted to go in with a positive attitude. My friends came down to watch and that had me pumped up. My [older] brother Teddy and his wife, Alyssa, came [from Michigan] to watch. My mom and dad and [younger] brother Glen were there. That just got me even more excited to swim.”
Summer narrowly missed winning a state title in the 200 free, finishing in a school-record time of 1:49.30, just .05 seconds behind Carmel freshman Claire Adams, who finished first in 1:49.25 to claim the state championship. Summer was in third at the final turn, and overtook the second-place swimmer in Wawasee’s Breanna Robinson on the final trip down the pool.
“I was able to see [Adams] pretty much throughout the whole race,” Summer said. “It’s nice to have someone like her to race against because I knew I’d end up with a good time. My thoughts were to just get to the wall. Five one-hundredths of a second is really close. It could happen on a missed turn or [long] breath. I’m OK with second. I got a lifetime best time and I couldn’t be happier.”
Coach Brad Bennett found himself a rooting spectator down the stretch of the 200 free race.
“It was an incredible race,” Bennett said. “Summer came from behind and the fight between her, Claire and Breanna was incredible. To be within .05 of a state championship, about six inches or less — Summer has nothing to be upset about at all. She swam two lifetime bests in [Friday’s] preliminaries and came back [Saturday] and improved on those. She’s always told me that she just wants to do her best every time she swims, and she was able to do that extremely well.”
In the 100 freestyle, Summer finished sixth in another school record time, :51.36. Another Carmel freshman, Veronica Burchi, took top honors in :50.29.
Brown owned the school records in both events going into the state finals, then lowered both marks in Friday’s prelims and again Saturday.
“It was a good season,” Summer reflected. “I don’t know if It could have been any better. I’m happy with my times. I’m happy with my teammates and coaches. It was great because last year I got fifth in the 200 free and this year to get second blows my mind.”
Summer is right on track to match her brother Teddy’s resume. He took fourth in the 200 free and second in the 500 free as a junior in the 2002 state meet before winning state titles in the 200 individual medley and 500 free as a senior, on his way to earning the Herman F. Keller Mental Attitude Award.
“Her brother made the trip down from Ann Arbor to see her swim. He’s been her idol since she was 7 or 8 years old, or maybe even younger,” Bennett said. “To look up to him and see him perform that well, and then to go out and do something like this in front of her family is really special. I’m really happy to be able to go down to state with her, and am honored to coach a girl with the high level of character that Summer has. Her family has a strong commitment to helping her be her best. I’m lucky as a coach to have a family like that to work with.”
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