Athlete of the Week: Strang hits her stride in the water

Carolina Forest junior Brianna Strang has always loved the water.

Lately the water has been pretty good to her too.

Strang broke her own region records in winning two individual titles (the 200 and 500 freestyle) and anchored her 400 freestyle relay team to another record time in last week’s region championships before falling short at Saturday’s state championships in Columbia.

To add to her awards, she also was voted the inaugural Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week, collecting 9,424 (65 percent) of 14,442 votes cast in the contest.

It’s an honor that has been more than 16 years in the works. Growing up in Myrtle Beach, Brianna couldn’t get enough time in the water at her condo complex’s pool.

“She never had any fear of the water. At 3 months she was in the pool with floaties, then I had to keep a lifejacket on her in case she jumped in the pool,” mother Michelle Strang recalled. “When she was 2 we sent her to “Pepper” Geddings (Recreation Center) for swim lessons and she loved it. She’s done it ever since.”

From summer swim league to the year-around Myrtle Beach Swim Team and now to Carolina Forest, Strang thrives on the competition, mostly against herself.

“I’ve always loved it, but when I got the chance to swim under different coaches and learn more, I started getting results and dropping time,” Strang said. “That’s one of the things I like about swimming is you are always competing against yourself, trying to beat your best time. There’s always room for improvement.”

With that in mind, Strang took the money she received for her Sweet 16th birthday and put it towards (not a car or clothes like most high school students, but) a seven-week summer training camp at The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. She spent last summer working to improve her technique and time, and she did.

“It was cool because they use metered pools and in high school we swim in yards,” Strang said. “So I really had no way of knowing how much I had improved until I came back. By the end of the summer I had knocked 2 seconds off my 100 freestyle time and 6 seconds off my 200 freestyle just by learning some new things.”

Strang’s next goal is to break 2 minutes flat in the 200, a feat she has yet to accomplish. But with plans to spend more time in the water before her senior year, look for Strand to continue to make great strides.

Photo  courtesy of Rancier Photography

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