Fitzgerald takes first in 200 individual medley
By Elise Marlett, Current Staff
West Bend East High School has a state champion swimmer for the first time since 2013.
Bryan Fitzgerald, a senior and member of the West Bend Boys Co-op Swim and Dive team, placed first in his claim-to-fame race, the 200 individual medley, at the WIAA Boys Division 1 state meet on Saturday. His time of 1 minute, 50.15 seconds is the eighth-fastest time in the history of Division 1 boys swimming for this event. He also participated in two relays, placing 14th and 22nd, and received second place in the 500 freestyle. The team placed 14th as a whole.
Winning such a title would usually follow with some sort of immediate celebration. However, this did not seem to be the case with Fitzgerald, who was not hit by the magnificence of his performance until he exited the pool.
“I was pretty confused because obviously when you’re swimming, you’re working pretty hard and you don’t have too much oxygen going to your brain,” Fitzgerald said. “It felt pretty good getting out of the water, but my meet had just started, so I was just worried about taking care of business. I had to keep going.”
Unlike Fitzgerald, Coach Jim Sachse had a very emotional reaction to the win. Sachse has been Fitzgerald’s coach for eight years, in both club swimming as well as high school swimming, and feels immense pride in the athlete that Fitzgerald has become.
“I was very excited,” Sachse said. “I was so excited, it led to tears.”
Kevin Fitzgerald, Bryan’s younger brother and an East ninth grader, commented on how the win is an important reward for Bryan’s efforts in the sport.
“He had been working really hard for (this moment),” said Kevin with a smile. “He deserved it.”
“You can only do your own thing and hope that it’s good enough.”
– Bryan Fitzgerald
To Bryan, the championship win was never expected. He says that becoming a champion is a difficult goal to strive toward because you never know how your competitors will do.
“Becoming a state champion isn’t really something you can control,” Fitzgerald said. “You can only do your own thing and hope that it’s good enough. What you can do is make sure that you are at one hundred percent every day because in the end, you can’t control what one hundred percent of the other person’s capabilities are.”
Fitzgerald’s work ethic has been widely acknowledged by his supporters, but so has the energetic qualities of his personality. Sachse said that he noticed these qualities four years ago in Fitzgerald’s ninth grade and since then he has not changed at all.
“He’s very upbeat all the time,” Sachse said. “Lots of smiles. (It) keeps us going, keeps us upbeat.”
Being a senior, Fitzgerald is already making plans for college and the rest of his adult life. Deciding whether or not to swim seems to be one of his easiest choices.
“I’m not one hundred percent sure where yet, but at this point I can confidently say that I will be swimming in college,” Fitzgerald said.