Freeport's Otwell set to defend swimming titles
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Say goodbye to “Brett” and hello to Bria the beast.
As a freshman last season, Freeport's Bria Otwell used an alter ego to harness her fiery, competitive side at swim meets.
A year older and more experienced, she no longer needs “Brett” to channel the intensity that she'll need to her defend two WPIAL Class AA titles.
Otwell is in position to repeat as the winner of the 200-yard individual medley and the 500 freestyle at the WPIAL swimming championships, which begin Thursday and continue Friday at the University of Pittsburgh's Trees Pool. She enters the competition with the fastest qualifying time in the 200 IM (2:14.83), the fifth-fastest mark in the 500 (5:16.57) and a strong mind.
“I don't psych myself out anymore,” Otwell said. “Last year, I psyched myself out, and I had to create Brett to deal with it. … She's not an alter ego anymore — more of just a mentality. I can find it easier.”
So much in Otwell's life changed in the past 12 months. Home-schooled as a freshman, she enrolled at Freeport for her sophomore year. Her social life bloomed. Freeport fielded a full swim team, which only helped expand Otwell's social circle.
“I don't feel as caged like I did last year,” Otwell said. “I don't feel as much stress and anxiety. I think my friends have really helped with that.”
More Yellowjackets are around this season to share in the excitement. A year ago, Freeport had just one other individual qualifier, then-sophomore Rebecca Dudek, and two relay teams, the 200 medley and the 400 freestyle. This winter, Dudek is back, there's an additional relay (200 freestyle), and Otwell's long-time friend, freshman Zoe Pawlak, is in the mix.
Pawlak, a standout on Freeport's volleyball team, started swimming with Otwell when both were about 5 years old. But Pawlak gave up the sport when she began to devote serious time to volleyball two years ago.
Back into swimming, but “not really seriously back into it,” Pawlak is a medal contender in the 50 and 100 freestyle. She has the second-fastest 50 time (25.23) and the eighth best mark (55.97) in the 100.
“It was a sport that I was really serious about when I was younger, but it's kind of become more of a hobby,” Pawlak said.
St. Joseph senior Holly Stein, on the other hand, is a full-time student of the sport even though she swims as an independent, participating with Valley during the Vikings' meets.
“I'm feeling really good. I feel like I've prepared a lot,” Stein said. “I've prepared more for this meet than ever before.”
The senior holds the No. 2 time in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.39) and is No. 3 in the 200 IM (2:18.67).
“It's really exciting, but it adds a little pressure,” Stein said. “You have to live up to where you're seeded.”
Stein narrowly finished second in last year's breaststroke event, missing the top spot by 0.4 seconds.
“I'm more focused on it. I'm better at that event, but I really enjoy swimming it,” Stein said. “I know I have a good shot at the title. But for me, personally, it's about getting a really good time.”
Joining Stein in Trees Pool will be another St. Joseph's independent: freshman Sabrina Bowman.
Bowman has qualified with the No. 2 time in the 100 butterfly (1:00.27) and at No. 6 in the 100 backstroke (1:01.95).
“She's really good,” Stein said. “It lets me know there's someone in the same position as me.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers defensive end Tuitt shifts into high gear
- Rossi: Pirates foolish to bet on Burnett return
- Steelers notebook: No decision on surgery for rookie CB Golson
- McGinty officially a candidate for a Democratic U.S. Senate nomination
- Steelers’ Mitchell taking cautious approach about dealing with injuries
- Rain postpones Pirates-Cubs game
- Police: Florida man arrested for hitting, dragging Dunbar Township man with truck
- Thirsty pit bull turned on Arnold neighbors
- Inside the Steelers: Wide array of receiving options shine
- Doctors to be given star ratings on UPMC site
- Authorities identify 2 men killed in fiery crash in Pittsburgh