SYRACUSE — Breanna Robinson may be swimming the same two events at the IHSAA State Swimming and Diving Championships this weekend as her sister Brittany did just two years ago, but the talented junior from Wawasee High School is ready to make her own mark.
After winning both the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly and anchoring two victorious Warrior relay teams at the Concord Sectional, Robinson will be heading south to the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis for the state finals, which begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14.
According to the IHSAA, Robinson enters the state meet seeded first in the 100 back and third in the 100 butterfly.
"When I saw where Breanna was seeded, I was very excited," Wawasee coach — and Breanna’s mom — Julie Robinson said. "But there is so much talent in Indiana this year that the state meet should be one of the best ever and she will have to be ready."
As a freshman, Breanna qualified for the state and finished in the top three in the 100 and 200 free. Meanwhile, Brittany Robinson won the state title and set a state record in the 100 butterfly and nearly won the 100 backstroke too.
After once again finishing in the top three in the 100 and 200 free last season, the Robinsons knew it was time to branch out for Breanna’s junior year.
"It’s very important to Division I college coaches to see how versatile a swimmer is,’’ Julie Robinson explained. "Coaches knew she was fast in the freestyle races, but we thought it was important to show that she’s strong in other events too. Breanna handled it well, which was a very mature decision for her."
While Breanna readily agreed to swim other events this season, the shadow of her sister’s success was always there.
"I knew going into the season, that competing in the backstroke and the butterfly were the best thing for me," Breanna said. "But I also knew those were the events that Brittany swam and I didn’t want to to be compared to my sister all year. I wanted to be my own person, rather than having everyone compare my times or success to what my sister did."
But eyebrows were raised at the sectional, when Breanna sliced more than a second off her sister’s meet record in the backstroke. Breanna’s time of 54.65 broke the pool and sectional record of 56.17 Brittany had set in 2012.
"I think last season was an adjustment time for Breanna, since she was swimming without having Brittany around for the first time," Julie Robinson said. "But I’ve really seen a lot of growth and maturity from her this year and she’s become a real leader for us."
Breanna Robinson spent part of last summer at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado, competing with and learning from some of the top swimmers in the nation.
"Bre has always been very focused and goal-oriented, but I think talking to kids her age about the same kind of decisions she’s looking to make was great,’’ Julie Robinson said. "She could talk to them about college choices or goals they set and she knows they’re dealing with the same type of things.’’
"It really was a great experience," Breanna added. "The competition was very good of course, but so were the people. I made a lot of friends there and learned a lot too. It was an opportunity I’ll never forget."
As for making a college choice, while admitting other schools are still in the mix, Julie Robinson said Breanna has Notre Dame and Indiana University at the top of her list.
With a year still to go in her high school career, Breanna knows she could have one more shot at a title in 2015. But that’s definitely not how she is thinking.
"I am so excited to be going back to the state finals,’’ Breanna Robinson said. "Having experience there will help me, but I just want to go, swim my fastest race and just have a blast doing it. I can’t wait to try and bring home a title.’’