Patriot Brakovec makes big slash in sophomore season
by Andrew Stark
Independence boys swimmer Hunter Brakovec has already crossed winning a conference championship off his growing list of accomplishments, but now he has his sights set on achieving bigger goals in the years to come.
Brakovec, a sophomore, starred for a young Patriots swimming and diving team and took first place in the 500-yard freestyle at the Southwestern 4A conference meet (4 minutes, 42.22 seconds),where he edged out Providence senior and N.C. State recruit Ryan Wilkinson in that event. Brakovec narrowly missed winning a second league title by finishing second in the 200 individual medley.
His conference championship, and a great showing at the regional and state meets, helped Brakovec become Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2011-12 Matthews-Mint Hill Boys Swimmer of the Year.
“At conference, he was able to pull ahead of an awesome Providence swimmer (Wilkinson) to get first in the 200 free, which was yet again another surprise to most in attendance,” said Patriots coach Kelly Geiler.
Another surprise was Brakovec’s showing at the 4A Western Regionals, where he finished fourth in the 500 freestyle (4:42.22) and third in the 200 IM (1:57.75). He also teamed with Brendon Toma, Logan Phillips and Jeffrey Coffman in the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay for top-10 finishes.
At the state meet, he finished 10th in the 500 freestyle (4:42.23).
“I think we did pretty good as a team (this year),” Brakovec said. “We were not very big as a team, but we beat some good competition throughout the year. As for myself, I did well overall. I was able to drop my times, and winning the conference meet was definitely the best part of it all.”
Brakovec said the 500 freestyle is his best event, but he is open to, and versatile enough, to swim any event.
“Hunter competed in breaststroke, freestyle and medley relays, 500 freestyle, IM and the 200 free for Independence this year,” Geiler said. “It is hard to pinpoint his best event.
“His breaststroke and 500 freestyle really surprised everyone. He is the type (of) swimmer that will attempt to do whatever you ask, even if it requires swimming back-to-back events.”
Out of the pool, Geiler says Brakovec, who maintains a 4.5 GPA, is a quiet leader who earns his teammates’ respect.
“I try to lead by doing the right thing,” Brakovec said. “I want to warm up the correct way and be a good teammate by cheering them on whenever I can.”
Geiler said she is excited to see what one more year of experience can do for the Patriots and looks forward to coaching Brakovec again.
“You won’t find a better student-athlete – Hunter embodies the word,” Geiler said. “He truly represents Independence High School athletes in a very positive way. He is as dedicated to academic achievement as he is to his success in the pool. Hunter has more than his share of talent, both in and out of the water, but you wouldn’t know it by his attitude.”
“I can’t wait to see where his talent will lead him in the years to come.”