BOULDER — Taking an original path toward becoming a unique sort of two-sport star wasn’t necessarily Colin Brown’s master plan.
It all just sort of worked out that way. Suddenly the Fairview senior is realizing a dream, as he will continue to play football and compete in swimming next year at Pomona-Pitzer, a Division-III program in eastern Los Angeles County in California.
Brown, a force on relay events throughout his swimming career for the Knights, is gearing up for Saturday’s annual Boulder County Invitational with an eye toward capping his prep career by making a bigger impact in individual events at state.
An all-region selection as a ball-hawking defensive back for Fairview’s football team, Brown counts himself among very few athletes that pursue the odd combination of swimming and football at the next level. Yet Brown is quick to credit the vastly different workout routines in each sport for helping to maximize his potential in both.
“Swimming definitely gives me the cardio,” Brown said. “I’m always in good condition for football. But then football gives me the strength. We do so much weight work in football that when I’m on the blocks, I always feel like I’m one of the strongest guys out there.
“I started looking around for schools in swimming last spring and I was in contact with a few. But in football, I had so much fun I wasn’t ready to end my career. I started talking to some schools and asking about doing both. Pomona was the one that showed the most interest. It’s a great academic school. It’s a great setting. It’s a perfect match.”
Brown, along with fellow seniors Tim Soderlund, Ryan Duffy, and Will Conway, has been a steady presence on the Knights’ well-regarded relay teams, notching consecutive seventh-place finishes in the medley relay the past two years at state while also contributing to Fairview’s fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay last year.
Brown, like Soderlund, hasn’t enjoyed the same sort of glory in individual events. A sprint freestyle and breaststroke specialist, Brown has qualified for state in the breaststroke in each of his previous three seasons but has advanced to the final two heats only once, finishing 16th as a freshman in 2009.
The trend is one Brown hopes to reverse before he packs his bags for California. He slowly has been working his way back from a nagging groin injury, and Saturday’s BoCo Invite will mark the first time this season Brown will compete in his signature event, the 100 breaststroke.
“I do think top 16, even top eight, is a goal this year,” said Brown, who will join former Fairview teammate Matt O’Connor on the Pomona-Pitzer football team. “And I think our relays will be strong again. I do think that’s where it does translate from football, because when you’re on the block for a relay, it’s not about you but the team. There’s less individual pressure because you’re with your teammates.”
Brown has proven adept at maximizing his opportunities. Last fall, he recorded six interceptions and recovered two fumbles for the Knights. While Brown still is looking to seize a similar opportunity when he lines up on the starting blocks all by his lonesome during his individual events at state, it is safe to assume he nonetheless will help show his teammates how their sum can be greater than their parts in Fairview’s relay races.
“They’ve already qualified in a number of events,” Fairview coach Ted Romero said. “They’ve all had some really great relay swims. (Brown and Soderlund) have a chance to get back at state. Colin has a presence on the team, which really helps us out. At big meets he thrives in relays, where I think he really likes the team atmosphere.”
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07