Full steam ahead for Edward Little swimmer

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LEWISTON – None of the instructors or parents milling around Lewiston YWCA seven years ago looked at Andrew Brodsky and visualized the state’s future fastest freestyle swimmer. More likely, many of them were panicking to remember their lifeguard training.

Brodsky was a gymnast first and a swimmer, well, definitely not second or even third. His younger brother, Tim, was the one with the established pool credentials. Andrew simply had the bad flashbacks to his first experiences in the water.

“This was the first place I ever took swimming lessons,” Brodsky said during a break from a recent Edward Little High School swimming practice at the YWCA. “It was absolutely terrible for me.”

His second go-round didn’t exude excellence, either.

“I remember the first time I ever saw him and his brother in the pool together,” said Scott Morrison, then an instructor with the Twin Cities Swim Team and currently head swimming coach at EL. “I wondered if we were going to have to rescue him.”

It’s amazing how much has changed in Brodsky’s life from the turn of the century. He eventually gave up gymnastics. Today the necessary equipment for a spectator at one of his swimming workouts or meets isn’t a life preserver, but a good stopwatch.

In the first meet of his only full season as a member of the EL swim team, Brodsky shattered the school record in the 50-yard freestyle. Lucien Ouellette owned the previous fast time of 23.13 seconds for the Red Eddies, a benchmark that dated back to 1989. Brodsky’s numbers on Dec. 8: 22.36. That is also the quickest time in the state this season.

Next but certainly not last on Brodsky’s aquatic agenda, he hopes to trip the official Class A standard in the freestyle sprint. That record can only be broken in the state meet Feb. 19 at Bowdoin College.

Brodsky, who has been accepted through the early decision process and plans to swim at NCAA Division III Hamilton (N.Y.) College, believes he has left several tenths of a second in the pool. He is also taking a realistic approach, however, knowing that he’s chasing one of Maine’s most time-honored records.

Lewiston native and Hebron Academy graduate Sean McLellan set the 50 freestyle bar at 21.65 in 1983. Jaime Cunningham of Mount Desert Island established the all-class record of 21.58 in the 1999 Class B meet.

“I haven’t had as many time drops lately,” Brodsky said. “That’s even true for someone like Michael Phelps. Obviously I’m not at that (Olympic) level, but they can go for years without a time drop. As you get better, it takes a lot more time to train to get those time drops.”

You’ll find few athletes better trained or better schooled than Brodsky. Although he doesn’t view it as such, gracing the high school squad with his skills for this senior season added a complication to an already jam-packed life.

A top-10 student in his graduating class, Brodsky takes four advanced placement classes at EL. He is also a member of the Twin Cities Swim Team, for whom he competes regionally and nationally into April.

Maine Principals’ Association rules permit him to race for both Twin Cities and the Red Eddies, with restrictions. Brodsky swims under a “bona fide team” clause that requires him to make the high school team his priority. Brodsky must attend every EL practice except for defined academic or family reasons.

“Freshman year I started (with both teams), but I just couldn’t make it work. Then I got through sophomore and junior year, with junior year being the tough one,” Brodsky said. “When senior year came around, I said, ‘If not now, never.’ I wanted to do it. I wanted to represent the school.”

Morrison admittedly tried to nudge Brodsky in the high school team’s direction while remaining respectful of his studies. Brodsky is among a small, elite group of L-A swimmers seeing double duty this season, including Emily Lewandowski and Allison Cary of St. Dom’s and Jess Stocker of Lewiston.

“Four AP classes are a big load even for somebody not in a sport,” said the coach. “I’ve been wanting to see Andrew swim with the high school team for four years, and not just for personal reasons. I wanted him to have the experience, and I wanted to see the impact he could have on the other kids.”

Brodsky will deliver his most obvious impact at the state meet with a likely flood of team points. In addition to the 50 freestyle, he is allowed to compete in one other individual event and two relays.

After smashing the school record, Brodsky has foregone the sprint for most of the winter to concentrate on meeting the state qualifying standard in every other individual event. There is an element of secrecy to which of those disciplines he will try on the 19th, but the other decision is no decision at all.

“I love the 50 freestyle,” Brodsky said. “It’s basically jump in the water and swim as fast as you can.”

Which is a talent they don’t teach at swimming lessons.

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