A number of Hoosiers took to the pool at the Tokyo Olympics in July and August.
Twelve current and former Indiana swimmers and divers competed in the games. Indiana’s head diving coach Drew Johansen and head swimming coach Ray Looze joined the athletes as coaches for the United States team.
Current Hoosier swimmers and divers who participated in the games included junior swimmer Michael Brinegar and senior diver Andrew Capobianco for Team USA. Sophomore swimmer Tomer Frankel competed for Team Israel.
Brinegar, Capobianco and Frankel made their Olympic debuts in Tokyo. Capobianco earned a silver medal in the synchronized three-meter springboard event with former Indiana teammate Mike Hixon, scoring 444.36 points in a six-dive set.
Since his return from the games, Brinegar has been able to reflect on what this experience meant to him.
“This is something that I’ve been wanting to do my whole life,” Brinegar said. “Being able to swim at IU and then represent IU and the U.S. in the Olympics is something I’ve always dreamed of.”
Brinegar placed 17th in both the 800m freestyle and 1500m freestyle.
While the Olympics wasn’t his first international competition, he faced more pressure than he had ever experienced while competing.
“Other international meets I’ve been part of representing the U.S. are still a big deal,” Brinegar said. “But the Olympics — it’s the biggest international competition we have for swimming so there’s just a little bit more added pressure.”
A special thing about being part of the Indiana swim and dive team is the long history of IU Olympians. Brinegar carried on this tradition as his mother, Jennifer Hooker Brinegar, swam at Indiana from 1980 to 1983 and was on the 1976 Olympic Team.
Current and former Indiana teammates made the experience even more special for Brinegar.
“It was awesome to see lots of people I knew there like my teammates from IU and getting to be on the U.S. team with them,” Brinegar said.
Competing is about having trust in his training and not changing how he races at the last second, he said. At the Olympics, Brinegar said he made the mistake of making last-second changes, and this is something he hopes to improve on this season.
Brinegar is taking lessons from his Olympic experience and applying them to the 2021-22 season to help Indiana swim and dive compete at the highest level and win championships.
“We’ve got a really good team this year,” Brinegar said. “I think we should win Big Tens and then hopefully we’re aiming to win NCAAs this year. It will just be a fun process to go through with the team as we try to get there and then hopefully achieve it.”