It isn’t exactly a surprise that Brian Woodbury is at home in the water.
After all, he first started swimming when he was 6 months old.
Now a junior at Curtis High School, Woodbury has broken the school record in the 100-yard backstroke and is hoping to stand atop the podium at the Class 4A state swimming and diving championships this weekend at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. He will also swim the 100 butterfly.
Despite his longtime love for the sport, Woodbury didn’t anticipate having such success.
“I’ve been swimming since before I could walk,” he said, “but I don’t think anyone guesses they’re going to be good until they actually start getting good.”
Curtis swim coach Mark Olson said Woodbury is the hardest-working swimmer he has coached in 30 years with the Vikings.
“He’s just a talented swimmer who works hard,” Olson said. “He doesn’t go out there and brag about himself; he just goes out and does the job.”
Case in point: Olson needed Woodbury to swim on the 200-freestyle relay at the West Central District meet on Feb. 2, even though the backstroke was the following event.
“That just shows what kind of kid he is,” Olson said. “It put him back to back, and he wasn’t rested, but he doesn’t complain. He just does it.”
Not only did Woodbury do it, but he broke the pool record in the backstroke, in 51.35 seconds. He set the previous record last season.
“I swam three races in 20 minutes,” Woodbury said. “But it’s good motivation to go fast.”
And there’s also some side benefits, he said.
“You get a lot out of your mind,” he said. “It’s like doing yoga.”
With a laugh, he added, “When you think about it, it’s the most boring sport you can do, but there’s a niche of people who really love it.”
Next up is the state meet, where Woodbury hopes to get under 50 seconds in the backstroke, which would be an automatic All-American time. The closest he has come is 50.7 seconds with his club team at the Tacoma Swim Club. But he isn’t adding longer practices or extra conditioning to do it.
“Swimming is all mental,” he said. “If I can go a 51.3 in a practice Speedo 10 minutes after a relay, I can conquer the world.”
Woodbury added that he is excited to see how Curtis will fare at state after finishing third at districts.
“I’m amazed at how well the team has done,” he said. “We lost a lot of seniors from last year and we got better, and next year we’ll only have lost a couple of seniors.”
Woodbury, who has a 4.0 grade-point average in a course load that includes three advanced placement classes, would like to attend Purdue University. But no matter where he goes, he wants to keep swimming.
“If you’re born in the water, you always love it,” he said.
His coach won’t be surprised he sees Woodbury making waves at the collegiate level.
“He’s a potential (NCAA) Division I kid,” Olson said. “He’s right there with the best of them. Every single year, he gets better — so who knows next year? blogs.thenewstribune.com/preps