Conestoga swimmer Brian McKenrick is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

The senior swimmer, undefeated in all individual events as of Monday, set two new pool records at Penncrest Jan. 26 – the 50 free (21.59) and 100 free (47.44).  The multi-talented senior has made the automatic qualifying times in the 50 free, 100 free, 100 back, 100 fly and 200 IM. Last winter, McKenrick was Central League champion in 100 fly and 100 back, District One champion in 200 IM and 100 back, and third at States
in 200 IM and 100 back. Next winter, he will be swimming for West Point Military Academy.

Q: You mentioned that your best swim so far this season was on Jan. 26 at Penncrest when you broke the pool’s record in the 50 free with a clocking of 21.59. What was working particularly well for you that day?

A: The night before I had worked on my sprinting skills such as my underwater kicks, my foot position on flip turns and especially my break outs. During warm ups, I made sure that I was really working my underwaters and working on fast break outs. When I got up to race, I felt better than I had in a while and I got up and raced. I think it also helped that at practice the night before I went 22.2 from a dive and that really gave me the confidence to get up and go fast.

Q: What do you feel is your best event, and why?

A: I think that my best event is probably the 100 back. I really try to use my underwater kicks as much as I can, because the reality is that I am not as strong or as big as some of the guys I am racing. If you watch Olympians and NCAA finalists, every single one of them pushes themselves to the 15 meter mark. I try to do the same thing off of every wall, even in the 200 IM and 100 fly. One of the things I work on in practice is my underwater kicks and I make sure they are the right speed, right size, and most importantly the correct number of kicks.

Q: What was your most memorable experience in the post-season last winter–
can you share it with us?

A: My most memorable experience last year was definitely the last day of Centrals. We got to the 400 free relay, and both of our relays, A and B, had to win their heats so that we would be Central League champs. I wasn’t on either of the relays because I had already swum two individual events and two relays. It was a very stressful moment because there wasn’t anything I could do to help my team except cheer for them and get them motivated. Our B relay had some huge swims that we didn’t expect, and they won their heat. Our A relay swam really fast against Radnor, but going into the last leg, we were still behind by about half a body length. Our anchor, then a freshman, Brendan Burns, had an amazing swim and pulled ahead in the last 50 and won the relay. That moment made me really appreciate our team and the bond that we had. It was one of the most exciting moments I have ever had in my life.

Q: Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of training?

A: Due to the proximity to the local YMCA and the conflicting practice times, my high school coach, Mark Tirone, lets me practice with the Upper Main Line YMCA Coach, Lou Petto. We practice six days a week, two hours a day after school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We have a 2 1/2 hour practice after school on Thursday, and two 1 1/2 hour practices on Friday before and after school. We also practice for two hours every Saturday morning. We are expected to be in the weight lifting room for three hours a week, but we can go up to the lifting room any day of the week. During swim practice I make sure that I am focusing on improving one thing in each of my strokes. For freestyle, I focus on my breathing pattern. Backstroke, I try to make sure I am not crossing my arms once they reach the water. Breaststroke is focusing on my catch, pull and timing. Butterfly is my breakout and the placement of my breath. I always try to find a purpose
for everything that we do in practice. Give everything I do at swim practice a meaning and a purpose.

Q: What aspect of your swimming have you been working on the most recently?

A: I’ve really been working on my ability to control my breathing. Especially with strong
underwaters, you have to be able to not only hold your breath but also know exactly when and how much to breathe in and out. When I’m swimming anything on my stomach, I make sure that I am exhaling when my face is in the water and inhaling when it is out. This allows me to maximize the amount of air I can get in on the inhale and thus hold my breath longer when it comes to the underwaters.

Q: What pool did you first swim for? What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?

A: I’ve been swimming for my club team, UMLY (Upper Main Line YMCA), since I was 5 or 6. My favorite pool is either Greensboro Aquatic Center or Bucknell University pool. Both have great atmospheres and really make me feel like I am at a high level competition. They feel so high tech, clean and competitive.

Q: Who have been your biggest swimming mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?

A: I have always thought that my biggest swimming mentors were not only my swim coaches but also karate teachers. I believe that everything I have learned in life between school, karate and even piano, can be applied to swimming. My age group coach, Anne Gavin, first taught me how to do underwaters and how to do them correctly. My middle age group coach, Jamie Krull, taught me the benefit of hard work and the resiliency required in swimming. My current club head coach, Lou Petto, taught me how to train smart. Not just get in the pool and grind yards, but to make sure everything has a purpose, and if it is not readily available, then create a purpose for it. My high school coach, Mark Tirone, has taught me how to balance my school work with swimming and really helped me get through my high school career successfully. My karate instructors all taught me how to lead people in lessons and how to teach people, no matter their age, experience or size. This is definitely a skill that I love to use with my teammates to try to help improve themselves and their skills.

Q: Tell us a little about your pre-meet preparation the day of a meet.

A: When I just have a dual meet, it is simply just a normal day. I do not do anything out of the ordinary. This is due to the fact that we are focused on the long term – the championship meets, but also because i have always been told that doing things out of the ordinary the day of or before a swim meet can throw your body off and mess up your swims. For bigger meets I always make sure that I eat a full breakfast and am snacking throughout the day. I make sure I am eating fruits, vegetables, and protein based snacks. My favorite is peppers and hummus. These snacks have always kept me powered throughout the day and through long swim meet sessions. I always try to think of my events during the day and make sure I now the exact kick count and exact breath count I need.

Q: When did you first start thinking about going to West Point? What do you think you might want to major in at West Point? Is there a particular career path that interests you?

A: I have always thought about joining the military. My father served in the Army and
completed two tours in Iraq. His brothers both went to West Point, one is now a
general in the army and the other chose the civilian route. Joining the military has
always been in my blood and I guess that when I was given the opportunity to go
to West Point, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I really want to study International Relations or Public Policy. This is also part of the reason I chose West Point. What place better to study international relations and public policy than a place that is directly involved in creating both. I knew that I have always wanted to lead people in one form or another, and growing up in a military family gave me an eye into the greatest leaders in the history of the U.S. When I was deciding where I wanted to commit for my next four years, I brought up the idea of West Point. My uncle, who is a two star general, asked me, “Do you want to be an Army Officer and all the responsibilities it comes with? If not, then West Point is not where you should be.” I thought about it and
realized that there is no other greater honor or duty than serving your country and
leading men and women to help protect this country.

Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Conestoga? What sparked your interest in these activities?

A: The other activities I am involved with at Conestoga include Model UN and S.A.V.E.S. club. I have been involved with Model UN since freshman year and have loved it. I love talking politics and debating policy with other kids from around the country and even around the world. I always thought it would be cool to act as different countries and see international issues from different points of view. S.A.V.E.S. club was started by a close friend of mine Kailyn Woyak. We help raise money for endangered species around the world. At first I was hesitant about joining, but after some time, she convinced me to join.

Fun facts – Brian McKenrick
Favorite book: Weed Flower.
Favorite author: Cynthia Kadohata.
Favorite TV show: How I Met Your Mother.
Favorite movie: Captain America: The First Avenger.
Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band.
Favorite place to visit: Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming.
Favorite color: Orange.
Person I most admire: General George S. Patton.
Birth date: June 2, 1999 in Bryn Mawr.
Family members: Alisa Shin (mother), Bob McKenrick (father), brother Aidan McKenrick (10th grade), sister Ally McKenrick (eighth grade), Masako Shin (grandmother), Wangshik Shin (grandfather).

(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)


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