Hough swimmer Brumm is modest, but his talents make him hard to ignore
by Chris Hunt
Peter Brumm fidgets in a chair in the lobby of the Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics Center just before swim practice, his left knee bouncing up and down like a jackhammer.
It’s possible that Brumm is just burning off excess energy. After weeks of hardcore training with his club team, SwimMAC, Brumm is enjoying a rare “off week,” in which he’s asked to swim only 7,000 yards per practice at a low gear, tapering off for a challenging national meet next month. It might just be that he’s not used to this level of inactivity.
Then again, Brumm is most likely bouncing in his chair because he’s uncomfortable talking about himself or his accomplishments in the pool that will likely make the Hough High School junior a coveted Division I college recruit. His fear is that his peers will perceive him as arrogant, but his list of accolades is as long as an Olympic-sized pool and too impressive to ignore.
Two-time 2010 1A/2A state champion
Two-time 2010 Junior Nationals qualifier
2010-11 USA Swimming Scholastic All-American
2011 4A West Regional Champion
2011 4A state qualifier
So if Brumm is so talented in the pool, why is he at a Hough High School swim team practice? Why is it so important for him to compete at the Class 4A high school level when he’s clearly blessed with ability worthy of the national level? Wouldn’t his time be best served training every second of the day to prepare for the challenge of the country’s elite junior swimmers?
“Swimming for my high school team is a break from SwimMAC,” said Brumm. “SwimMAC is very individually based on time, but high school is about scoring points for your team. When you touch the wall in high school, you don’t look for the clock; you look over to see if you beat the other guy next to you.”
This winter, Brumm has been beating more than his fair share of swimmers to the wall for his high school. On Jan. 22, Brumm dominated his events at the I-MECK 4A conference meet, collecting 114 points in four races, three of which he won or helped win – the 200-yard freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 medley relay. Hough needed each point, too, as it held off a powerful Lake Norman squad by just 26 points.
The following week, Brumm went on to take first place at the 4A Western Regional meet in the 100 butterfly and combined with Jack Manchester, Andrew Botelho and Max Hofman to win the 200 medley relay. Needless to say, Brumm has been a valuable asset for the first-year Huskies.
“Peter’s just naturally built for the water,” Hough coach Tim Queen said. “His work ethic and ability make him special. He’s going to swim nationally in the Olympic Trials one day, and he’s definitely a prime college swimming prospect.”
Brumm’s value to the Huskies only will increase at the Class 4A state swimming championships, which will be held at Cary’s Triangle Aquatic Center on Friday, Feb. 11. There, team points are difficult to acquire. The Huskies won the I-MECK with a score of 598 points, but Queen said the state champion traditionally finishes with a much lower total, increasing the value of a team’s club swimmers such as Brumm.
“Peter makes a huge impact at the state meet because he swims in two relays and scores top-three points in individual events that could collect close to 40 points himself,” said Queen. “The state meet is diluted because there are so many teams involved. The winner at conference gets 500 points, but only 200-300 points win at states.”
Then again, if Queen’s theory is true, it also puts a premium on Brumm’s performance against top-flight talent. At the state meet, Brumm most likely will face Lake Norman High’s Logan Heck, who lost to Brumm at the regional meet by three-tenths of a second. Western Regional team champion Providence High School’s top 200 freestyler, Kip Darmody, who held off Brumm by sixth-tenths of a second in the 200 freestyle at that event, also will swim in the state event. The fractions of a second difference between Brumm and his competition could be the difference between a memorable trip to Cary and a long, frustrating drive home.
Huskies and Mohawks
A day before the state meet, Brumm planned to shave off his trendy, bushy blonde hair – a common tradition among swimmers who believe a smooth surface creates less drag in the pool. But before razor meets skin, Brumm and his teammates were expected sport some interesting looks as a sign of solidarity leading up to the state meet. Brumm said he was going to wear a Mohawk-style haircut before he and his teammates shave their heads.
“I’m going to get a Mohawk and keep it a week before states to get into the school spirit,” said Brumm. “We’ll all shave our heads for states, but when you walk the hallways at school and see a crazy hairdo, you’ll know he swims. We do it to create team unity. High school swimming is all about supporting each other.”
It’s that kind of kindred spirit that attracted Brumm to swimming. Since he started working out with SwimMAC as an 8-year-old, the team aspect has always softened the sting of draining practices. That feeling became more gratifying when he joined Lake Norman Charter School’s swim team and won the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle 1A state titles in 2010.
Last August, he transferred to Hough hoping a 4A state title would bring him another level of excitement. He also liked the challenge of facing SwimMAC teammates Heck and Darmody with school bragging rights on the line.
“I left Lake Norman Charter for 4A states so I could compete at the high school level against some of the club swimmers I practice with,” said Brumm. “It’s more fun to compete against them. At Hough, where there are a lot of good swimmers going to states, there’s more of a chance to win a state title.”
The unassuming Brumm also has personal goals. He just prefers to avoid the subject.
Brumm has been training with SwimMAC since August in preparation for the USA Swimming Grand Prix Series event that takes place in Indianapolis, March 3-5. Under SwimMac’s direction, he’s tapering off his hectic practice schedule to hit his peak that week, but he will also see some benefit this month at the 4A state meet.
The bigger target, however, is Palo Alto, Calif., in August. Brumm already has qualified for the 2011 Speedo Junior National Championships at Stanford University, Aug. 8-12. But according to Queen, Brumm is extremely close to making the 2011 ConocoPhillips National Championships, Aug. 2-6, an event that will feature most of the 2012 Olympic hopefuls.
A strong showing at the Indianapolis event could do the trick.
So in preparation for next month’s event, Brumm’s schedule ramped up to eight practices a week in December and January, when he swam close to 9,000 intense yards per day. It was twice as hard on Wednesdays and Fridays, when SwimMAC held morning and afternoon practices. Brumm joked that SwimMAC team members call the most brutal week of workouts “Hell Week.”
“Those practices were rough, intense aerobic workouts,” said Brumm. “All you do that week is think about the next practice. All day, you’re thinking recovery and what to eat. It’s about the grunt work, but I like the routine. It gives structure to my day and helps me deal with pressure and (teaches me) how to deal with stress in college and my professional life.”
Brumm said he thinks about his future a lot and how swimming will prepare him for it, but he tries to remain in the present. As an 11th-grader, he’s still unsure how high he can climb in the swimming ranks, whether it’s winning a high school state event or competing in the college national championships.
And don’t even try asking him about the biggest of all swimmers’ dreams: qualifying for the Olympics. He’s too humble to even go there.
“I believe hard work can get you anywhere,” said Brumm. “The Olympics is a high goal, but I feel like it’s too egotistical to talk about that right now. Right now, it’s all about gaining experience in national meets.”
And winning a 4A state championship with his Hough teammates.