Over spring break, the Hopkins men’s swimming team sent 13 swimmers to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis, IN. Throughout four days of competition, the men’s team saw an array of strong performances, resulting in an impressive fourth-place team finish.
With the Jays garnering a whopping 35 All-America honors, this week’s Athlete of the Week could go to a number of swimmers. However, after claiming the only individual NCAA title this weekend, this week’s Athlete of the Week deservedly goes to sophomore Brandon Fabian.
After transferring from Virginia Tech following his freshman year, Fabian has already made a lasting impact on the Hopkins swim program after just a single season as a Blue Jay. Going into the NCAA Championship weekend, Fabian already held six school records and two conference records. His performance at nationals this weekend only confirmed his prestigious standing.
With key performances in the 200 Free Relay, 400 Free Relay, 400 Medley Relay, 800 Free Relay, 100 Free, 200 Free and 500 Free, Fabian landed the maximum seven All-America honors.
The highlight of the weekend, however, was his performance in the 200 free. In his initial morning swim, Fabian swam the second fastest time in program history, only being 0.16 seconds off the national record. Later in the evening, Fabian became the 200 free national champion, just the third Hopkins swimmer in program history to do so.
Following this championship win, Fabian sat down with The News-Letter to discuss what his expectations had been going into the NCAA Championship weekend and how he feels now looking back on his performance.
The News-Letter: What were your hoping to accomplish at this year’s NCAA Championship?
Brandon Fabian: Going into the week, I had my sights set much higher than what I knew I could accomplish. It is very easy to lose sight of your goals and doubt yourself at big meets. I knew that there was no chance of achieving what I set my sights for, but I knew that if I did my best to achieve something greater than possible, I would end up succeeding and putting forth my best effort.
N-L: What do you think your reaction would have been last year if someone told you you would win a national championship?
BF: I just simply would not believe them. At this point last year, I was not enrolled in Hopkins and had not even begun the transfer application process. I also hadn’t been swimming competitively for three months. It seemed unlikely that I would even swim another race. A lot has changed in the past year and a lot of it didn’t really begin until this past summer.
N-L: How did it feel to win gold at the NCAA Championships in the 200 free?
BF: It felt absolutely incredible. Seeing the camera zoom in on me after the race had me double take. I have prescription goggles, so I had to stare at the board for a minute to even realize that it was me up there! There have been a lot of great people that have supported me all year, so it was great to bring home the gold for them. A lot of the seniors on the team have been like older siblings to me, so it was great to perform well at their last meet with the team.
N-L: What would you say has been the biggest challenge you have faced within the past year?
BF: The biggest challenge I faced within the past year was self-doubt. I hadn’t really swum that well since high school, so a lot of time I would doubt whether or not I would improve. Swimming is such a tough sport, so it’s hard to let a bad practice or string of practices go. Keeping my head level and taking the good with the bad was the biggest challenge for me.
N-L: How was your transition from a Division I program to a Division III program?
BF: My transition from a DI to DIII program was incredibly smooth. Coming from a pretty cutthroat environment, it was pretty great to see nothing but positivity on the pool deck. The greatest thing about DIII is the passion that everyone has for their respective sport. Having a fun environment makes such a hard sport a little bit easier. The combined attitude from the team and coaching staff allows for a good, fun working environment where you can thrive.
Luckily for the Jays, as just a sophomore, Fabian will have another two years in the pool swimming for Hopkins. Catch him and the rest of the Jays in the Newton White Aquatic Center next season!