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Elizabeth Forward's WPIAL champion swimmer mulling college offers

| Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, 1:11 a.m.
Braelyn Tracy of Elizabeth Forward swims in the 500-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AA swimming championships at Trees Hall on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh on Friday March 2, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

Braelyn Tracy figured she would get a few collegiate looks after winning the 200-yard freestyle at the 2012 WPIAL Class AA swimming championships.

But she didn't think there would be so many that it would become this hard to finalize her choice.

“I need a break from thinking about this,” Tracy said. “I wake up and go to sleep thinking about where I'm going to go, and I've been exhausting myself with this decision.”

Tracy has talked to coaches from several schools, including to California (Pa.) , Toledo, West Virginia, Penn State and Pitt.

“I have a recruiting trip planned for Toledo and WVU, and once I do that, I'll probably make my decision shortly after that,” Tracy said. “But I'm waiting until after the holidays.”

Not only has the Elizabeth Forward senior been sifting through offers, but she's also been training with the Warriors as well as the Fox Chapel Killer Whales and competing at the Junior Nationals and at the Pitt Christmas Meet.

“Training has been going great,” Tracy said. “It's hard and everything because I have a little bit of a taper because last week I had Junior Nationals, last weekend was the Christmas Tournament at Pitt, but before that, I was going hard mornings and training and practices every day.”

Tracy is in a position she's never been in before. As a senior, she's a team captain for Elizabeth Forward, and she also comes into the season as a defending WPIAL champion for the first time. On March 1, she pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the meet when she came from the No. 3 seed to win the 200 freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 53.30 seconds, a drop of nearly five seconds from her qualifying time of 1:58.20.

Things did even out a bit the next day when she came into the meet as the top seed in the 500 freestyle but despite dropping almost nine seconds off her qualifying time, she ended up third behind Freeport freshman Bria Otwell and West Allegheny junior Kara Kaulius.

Tracy also earned a pair of medals at the state finals when she finished fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:52.57) and fifth in the 500 freestyle (5:01.20).

Now, in addition to coming up with as successful a season as 2011-12, she has to be an example for the rest of the Warriors team.

“I do know a lot of people look up to me. But we're a team, and we've won the section three straight years. And I'm working my butt off to make sure we have four in a row,” Tracy said. “I think it's great for the school, and we have so many kids on the team, and we're a very team-oriented sport.”

Many consider swimming to be an individual sport where every competitor is concerned about posting his or her best times. Team unity doesn't always come into play, but Tracy disagrees.

“A lot of people get their competitiveness when they compete against each other, but some people on a team can kind of plateau when they're looking for their best times,” she said. “You just have to explain to people that every meet you're not going to get your best times and that's why you help each other train harder so you can look back to all the hard work you did when you get those best times.”

Even with the team goals, Tracy has one of her own; winning a state championship. And she knows it would be the perfect ending to her high school career.

“I would totally cry if I won a state title,” Tracy said. “I would be so happy. You put in so many hours and so much time and give up so much. … And if I would win that, I would be at a loss for words.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.

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