Loggerhead John Brennock is Saint John's County Swimmer of the Year

Link to original article

2013 All-County Boys Swimming: Commitment paying off for Bartram's Brennock

Posted: January 18, 2013 - 4:36pm

Bartram Trail's John Brennock is The Record's Boys Swimmer of the Year. DARON DEAN
Bartram Trail's John Brennock is The Record's Boys Swimmer of the Year.

For most of St. Johns County’s top swimmers, some of the best in the state, swimming is something that knows no season. It takes constant development, adjustment and progress to keep up with the competition.

John Brennock has only been swimming on a year-round schedule for about seven months. Apparently, that’s all he needed to become the county’s best.

Raw talent was enough to make Bartram Trail’s Brennock, the St. Johns County St. Augustine Record’s Boys Swimmer of the Year, good. It wasn’t until he learned that talent alone wouldn’t cut that he aspired to become more than just good.

“My sophomore year I made it to the regional meet seeded seventh in the 50 freestyle and I ended up finishing 16th overall. I choked, basically,” Brennock said. “I missed making the state meet and I wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen again because of me not training enough.”

It’s not that Brennock first jumped into a pool last year, but that’s when he first became a swimmer, giving the sport the commitment and sacrifice it needs to be mastered. This county is not one for part timers. Ponte Vedra, whose boys placed second in the state medley 400 relay, could have had any one of them selected as the county’s best.

Brennock recalls one of the meets against Ponte Vedra’s bevy of talented sprint-swimmers where it all clicked.

Brennock’s good had always been enough to keep him ahead of the competition to that point. But there he realized not only that his talent wasn’t special, but that it would take much, much more if he wanted to stay on top of his peers.

“It was my sophomore year and Ponte Vedra had about five other guys who were right around my time in the 50 freestyle,” Brennock said. “That was an eye opener for me.”

Soon after, Brennock joined Julington Creek Loggerhead Aquatics.

The first toll taken was a physical one. Upping one’s distance in the pool that dramatically, that quickly, can have devastating effects on a body. Brennock, to that point, was only accustomed to swimming about 2,000 yards a day for training. Then came the Loggerheads, who routinely logged roughly 6,000 yards.

Then came the mental toll. Instead of being surrounded by swimmers mostly looking for something fun to do in the summer, Brennock found himself immersed in an environment dedicated to pushing a swimmer’s limits that shared little in common with anything he had experienced to that point.

“The first couple of weeks I wasn’t sure about how long I’d be able to last,” Brennock said. “It wasn’t until I saw how my times were jumping that I knew it was all going to be worth it. I think my fastest 100 freestyle before I started year round was about 51 seconds, and I dropped two full seconds by the end of that year.”

Having seconds shaved off his time in such dramatic chunks was enough to commit to the grind. Instead of only swimming in the afternoons, Brennock moved up in the team’s hierarchy and began practicing in the mornings as well.

Mark Corley, head coach and team director for Julington Creek, saw that Brennock had some potential at first glance, but it was so raw, so undefined, that he didn’t pay him much attention at first. His endurance was so poor compared to the more experienced swimmers that it was going to take a lot of development for Brennock to ever realize that potential.

What he saw from Brennock surprised even him, to his own admission. A couple months of practicing eight or nine times a week had resulted in a complete turnaround in his ability to train.

And with the improvement in his training, the carryover to his competitions followed in suit.

“What I saw was the work he was putting in the pool,” Corley said. “It’s really gratifying to see somebody put in that kind of effort and have it pay off in such a big way.”

The result of all the hard work was setting the Bartram record for the 50 freestyle, along with qualifying for the state meet in the 200-yard IM relay, the 200-freestyle relay and a ninth-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle. His coach at Bartram, Gina Aguilar, saw her swimmer develop mentally as well as physically to make the jump.

“Swimming is so mental,” Aguilar said. “It’s easy to be a big fish in small pond, hard to be the big fish in a big ocean. It’s easy to get scared swimming with sharks. You can tell when someone gets nervous how they walk to the block changes, but that’s not the case with John. He’s confident and is willing to put the work in to get there.”

Brennock was only a junior last year, so next year offers one more opportunity for him to keep bringing his times down and catch the attention of a few college programs. Until then, he’ll have more 6,000-yard days in the pool, and a summer with double-digit practice weeks.

But this time, he’ll be ready for it.

Sponsors (Partners)