Conestoga swimmer Brendan Burns is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

Brendan Burns

The Conestoga junior is the 2017 PIAA 100 yard butterfly and 100 yard backstroke champion and an All-American in both events.  On Jan. 22, Burns not only broke three Garnet Valley pool records, he set two national public high school swimming records for Short Course Meters (SCM) in both events.  His 100 meter fly time of 52.41 broke the pool record by 4.76 seconds. His 100 meter back time of 53.66 broke the pool record by 4.39 seconds. He has qualified in all eight district swimming events, and is undefeated this season in the 200 free, 200 IM, 50 free, 100 free, 500 free, 100 fly and 100 back. Last year, Burns swam 1:42.94 in the 200 yard fly, second fastest time ever by a 15/16 year old behind only Michael Phelps (1:42.2) in U.S. swimming history.

Q: What was the key to your success against Garnet Valley Jan. 22?

A: It was pretty much all mental. Garnet Valley is really far away from us and I was bored on the ride over so I looked up the NISCA Short Course Meters Records. I then realized that they weren’t all that fast in comparison to the utterly insane yards records. The previous week, I had gone 55.7 in a Long Course 100 fly so I knew I had a pretty good chance to break the record. I borrowed a suit from my teammate, senior Oliver Brown, and just got in the zone before my race.

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

A: I think my best event is the 200 butterfly. Although it is not contested in high school competitions, I think it is my best event because of my natural endurance and strength, as well as my body type (double-jointed elbows, really flexible shoulders, and strong legs and core). The adrenaline rush I get during the race is also unmatchable, especially at big meets like Phillips66 Nationals.

Q: What do you think was your best performance in the PIAA post-season last year? What was your most vivid memory of States – can you share it with us?

A: I would say that my best performance was my 100 backstroke. Although I am mainly a butterflyer, I really enjoy doing the 100 back because the race is almost entirely underwater, which is the best part of my race. Additionally, the chance to race senior captain Brian McKenrick head to head with a state title on the line was really exciting. Fortunately, I came out on top but before the race Brian and I agreed that the race changes nothing about our relationship, no matter the outcome.

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

A: I have six two-hour swim practices a week with lifting on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday as well as a spin class on Thursdays. I have morning swim workouts every Friday.

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

A: Backstroke tempo. I have a tendency to “go for a Sunday stroll” as my coaches put it so I have been focusing on increasing my turnover rate for my arms.

Q: Earlier this season, you swam 1:42.94 in the 200 yard fly, second-fastest time ever by a 15/16 year old behind only Michael Phelps (1:42.10) in U.S. swimming history. What is your most vivid memory of that event that day – could you share it with us?

A: My most vivid memory was on the podium directly after the swim. I had not expected to go that fast that early in the season so I was on Cloud Nine. Also, I had beaten a US National Team/World University Games team member/2016 Olympic Trials finalist, Zach Harting of the University of Louisville, so to race against some of the best competition this country has to offer was a great feeling.

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

A: I first started swimming for the Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA summer swim team in Trumbull, Connecticut. I moved to Pennsylvania in the fall of 2009 and started swimming for the Upper Main Line YMCA year round. I’ve been there ever since and the rest is history. My favorite pool is either the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, Indiana or the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Both of these pools have played host to big time swimming history and are among if not the fastest pools in the world.

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

A: My parents were and are very influential in my swimming career. Swimmers themselves, they met through the Westport-Weston masters swim team in Westport, Connecticut and have been swimming for their entire lives (my mom swam at Radnor Aquatic Club, Suburban Swim Club, and Marple Newtown high school). They introduced me to the sport at a young age and they’ve taught me that swimming is just a sport but it’s also so much more than that at the same time.


Q: What would you like to major in at college? Is there a particular career path that interests you at the present time?

A: At this point in time I would like to study business, particularly something on the people side like marketing. My father is in online sales and with his job he gets to travel the country (sometimes the world), meet new people, and get things done. Kind of like high-level competitive swimming!

Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Conestoga?

A: I am currently in the process of joining the TV production club, called “Good Morning Stoga”. I hope to do some behind-the-scenes work in the club or perhaps get on camera.

Fun facts – Brendan Burns

Favorite book: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

Favorite author: Roald Dahl.

Favorite TV show: Spongebob Squarepants.

Favorite movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Favorite athlete: Aaron Judge or Rob Gronkowski.

Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: “Dreams and Nightmares” by Meek Mill or the U.S. National Anthem.

Favorite team: New York Yankees or New England Patriots.

Favorite place to visit: any and all beaches.

Favorite pre-meet meal: Anthing with pasta, red sauce, sausage/meatballs/chicken, and salad.

Favorite color: Blue.

Person I most admire: “Derek Jeter. A true class act and played for the love of the game. Additionally, no one in baseball history was more clutch than the Captain.”

Family members: parents Eric and Heather, younger sister Delaney (also swims).

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

To view a photo gallery of the Main Line Boys Athletes of the Week from 2013 to present click here

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