Chartiers Valley grad Brody Schmidt taking on bigger role for Case Western Reserve swimming team
During his freshman season with the Case Western Reserve men's swimming team, Brody Schmidt had plenty of time to get acclimated to college competition. Coach Doug Milliken said the Chartiers Valley graduate did everything asked of him and performed well.
Last season, Schmidt stepped into a bigger role. One of the members of the Spartans' NCAA-qualifying 800 freestyle relay team graduated, and someone needed to fill the void.
“It was definitely a big step up,” said Schmidt, a junior. “We kind of knew the 800 free was probably our best shot at making the national championship, and there was definitely competition for who would be in that spot.
“It was good pressure, though, because when the time came, I was ready, and I knew what I had to do.”
Schmidt was put on the relay team, and though it did not repeat as conference champion — the Spartans were edged by eventual NCAA champion Emory — it still made it back to the national meet.
This season, Schmidt is one of the veterans on the 800 relay, and another swimmer must fill the spot opened by a graduated senior.
“This year, his junior year, he's that stable guy,” Milliken said. “We know what we're going to get from him. I know that I can apply that pressure, and he'll rise to it.”
The Spartans men are 6-1 in dual meets and added a title at the Wooster Invitational before the holiday break.
Schmidt was part of the winning 400 free relay team in victories over John Carroll and Wooster. He also proved to be a capable competitor in the breaststroke by winning the 200 breast in a quad meet against Grove City, Gannon and Rochester.
Milliken said he could plug Schmidt into a variety of events, and he could hold his own. But the 800 free relay will remain his focus and likely his best route back to the national meet.
During Schmidt's freshman season, the Spartans 800 free relay team earned honorable mention All-American status with a 10th-place finish at NCAAs. Last season, the relay was 18th, just missing honorable mention All-American status.
Schmidt hopes to use the experience to his advantage this winter.
“It was so different from our conference meets,” he said. “Everyone is on a whole different level. It definitely was intimidating.”
Milliken said he can foresee Schmidt being able to compete at nationals on an individual basis next season. And as part of a small Class of 2019, Schmidt also will have to be more of a leader.
“He's definitely building and has more confidence in his races,” Milliken said. “He really knows how to strategize in a race. But what is really going to be interesting is we're going to have a very small senior class next year, and he's going to be one of the only guys returning who has been to nationals.
“He will have a little different take on things. He knows how hard you have to work to make that goal.”
Schmidt is aware of what looms ahead, but he still has goals for this season. Besides trying to help the relay qualify for nationals, he hopes he can make a “B cut” in an individual event, which would allow him to compete at nationals as an individual if the relay qualifies.
“For the relay, I want to be faster than last year,” he said. “A lot of my season, I'm kind of focusing on being ready for that. That relay is the best shot our guys' team has for nationals.”