Simply put, Jake Braumbaugh loves being the pool. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of winter or a hot summer day. The Wadsworth sophomore always can be found putting in time for the sport he loves.
So after his first high school season in which he made a name for himself quickly, the Grizzly wanted even more.
Braumbaugh took to training in a 50-meter pool in Strongsville and continued to work year-round with the Copley Water Warriors. He also threw in a long run or weight room session.
The result was Braumbaugh helped Wadsworth to it first Suburban League title since 2010 and establed himself as one of the area’s most versatile swimmers.
All of this also made Braumbaugh the Gazette MVP.
“Last year, I was in a deer in headlights,” Braumbaugh said. “This year, I knew what it was going to take to compete in bigger meets.”
So from last April, he worked and worked some more.
All of those extra hours were great news for the Grizzlies, but very, very bad news for the rest of the SL and Northeast Ohio.
“He just shows up and works hard,” Wadsworth coach Liz Hastings said. “He’s a young kid with a lot to learn, and he wants to prove himself. He just has goals. He wants to be the best swimmer possible and break school records, and he’s a great teammate as a result.”
The attitude wasn’t something that happened overnight for the 5-foot-9, 125-pounder. It’s a lifestyle.
Since he was 6 years old, Braumbaugh has been at his best with googles on, but a newfound dedication in the offseason took Braumbaugh from just another swimmer to one of the best.
“My whole life is swimming,” he said. “The clicking point for me was last year after districts, and it just progressed over to the summer. I made a dedication to get a lot stronger, and I’ve put everything I had into it.”
The result was a banner season for Braumbaugh and his teammates.
It didn’t matter whether he was swimming in the freestyle, backstroke, butterfly or on a relay. Braumbaugh not only was able to win, but post some of the top area times as well.
Braumbaugh shaved 12 seconds off his time in the 500-yard freestyle from a year ago, clocking 4:57.69, along with breaking the school record in the 100 back with a 54.08.
Braumbaugh also was a key component to the 200 medley and 400 free relays that shattered records all winter.
“I think a lot of it has to do with how he has grown outside of practice and how he carries himself,” said Hastings, who started coaching Braumbaugh with the Copley club when he was a seventh-grader. “It’s his mental approach. He’s more sophisticated, works harder and pushes himself this season. It paid off.”
After Wadsworth swept its SL dual meets, including beating rival Copley for the first time this decade, Braumbaugh was key in helping the Grizzlies win their first overall SL championship since 2010. He was a part of four event wins — the 500 free and 100 back and 200 medley and 400 free relays.
Braumbaugh advanced to districts for the second straight year. While he did not earn the elusive state berth, he accomplished one of his preseason goals — breaking the school 100 back record that was set in the 2009-10 season by Aaron Tipton.
“I’ve wanted that backstroke record for a long time,” Braumbaugh said. “Every since the seventh grade, when I attending the SL and sectional meets and watched the team, I wanted to break it.”
While what is in store for next season is unknown, one thing is for sure.
Braumbaugh will be in the pool getting ready.
“From the club season to the start of this year, I was motivated,” he said. “We had pre-high school workouts and workouts with club and I got a lot stronger.
“I was looking forward to the season all (offseason) and to do some of the things we did as a team was just awesome.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.