January 25, 2006

Hard Work Pays Off for Swimmer Brookman

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This past December, senior captain Jessica Brookman traveled south – trading in her winter jacket and the cold, blustery weather of Ithaca, N.Y., for shorts, sunglasses and the beautiful sun in Auburn, Ala., where she swam in the U.S. Open. The event is a national meet for only the strongest swimmers in the country. To qualify, one needs to record a time comparable to those necessary for Olympic qualifying.

Brookman not only qualified, but she recorded two consecutive personal-best times when she was in Auburn, placing 16th overall in the 100-meter fly.

Brookman is a swimmer that hasn’t been on the national scene since her days as an All-America selection in high school. But after adopting a new workout regiment this summer, she’s now seeing results in the pool.

“I worked a lot on my technique. I straightened out my butterfly and now I’m practicing 20-25 hours a week, which is almost a full-time job,” Brookman said. “But the other Olympic caliber swimmers are training about 40 hours a week and that is a full-time job.”

The dedication might have started over the summer, but the U.S. Open has only further fueled Brookman’s desire to succeed and to achieve her goals.

“I had seen these girls on TV and then when I was there I was suddenly only two lanes down from them,” Brookman said. “After that race, I now have a lot of faith that I can race with them.”

Having a successful race in a national competition has had similar effects for men’s senior captain Stefano Caprara. Last season he qualified for the NCAA championships, and placed far above his initial expectations. Although Caprara would be swimming for Canada, he too has had serious Olympic aspirations and is convinced that he knows the secret to swimming well in future national and international races.

“After swimming next to these big-name guys, I got to know them. The next time I get into the pool in a big-time race against them I won’t be swimming against an Olympic gold-medalist,” Caprara said. “But instead I’ll say, ‘that’s just the guy I raced against last time.”‘

There is no doubt that swimming in the Olympic Games in order to represent their respective countries is something that these Cornellians would be honored to do – perhaps it has a lot to do with the upcoming games in Italy, or the popularity of swimmers like Mark Phelps and Brian Locke.

Regardless, Cornell swimmers aren’t letting that thought creep into their minds. The Red is focusing on swimming well now.

“To be on that team is every swimmer’s dream from the first time they get in a pool,” Brookman said. “I’m training hard, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself