Matt Brownstead had high expectations for his swimming career, with hopes of swimming internationally with Team USA. However, he didn’t expect those aspirations to come to fruition before he graduated from high school.
The State College Area High School student will spend the six days before the start of his senior year in Budapest, Hungary, competing in the FINA World Junior Championships. Brownstead was selected for Team USA after competing in the 2019 Phillips 66 National Championships that ran from July 31 to August 4 in Stanford, California. He finished second in his heat in men’s 50M freestyle with a time of 22.13 seconds, and will compete in the 100M freestyle relay in Budapest.
Brownstead said the qualifying event wasn’t even on his radar heading into the summer.
“Earlier this summer a coach of mine suggested that I go to Phillips 66 Nationals,” Brownstead told the Centre Daily Times. “Just for the reason that they were selecting the Junior World team.”
The state record-holder in the 50 freestyle did some research, sat down with his parents and made the decision to attend the Phillips 66 Nationals over the YMCA Nationals.
“We decided to put that on our calendar and see what I could do there,” he said. “We decided to see if I could make the Junior World team.”
Once Brownstead made the call to chase qualification for Team USA, he altered his training routine. He increased his training to twice per day with frequent lifting after training once per day with intermittent lifting in previous summers. He said those changes, and other lifestyle changes, helped him qualify for Junior Worlds.
“I was really trying to clean up my diet a little bit more,” he said, “get more sleep, really just focus on being in the best shape I could possibly.”
Brownstead competes with the State College Area Y Aqualions in the summer, under the tutelage of lead senior swim coach Matthew Horner.
Horner said it’s an honor to have Brownstead representing the country in Budapest.
“He really wanted to be there,” he said. “To represent your country from a small town like State College, it’s pretty exciting.”
He said Brownstead experienced a turning point in chasing his international goals after the school year ended.
“Matt’s always been driven,” Horner said. “I think his sense of urgency changed when school ended so he could completely focus on swimming.”
While Horner said he hopes Brownstead competes well in Budapest, he also wants the University of Virginia commit to take time to enjoy himself oversees and not get too bogged down by pressure.
Because, Horner believes, the best for Brownstead is yet to come.
“I think I just want him to visualize the experience as a whole,” he said. “I don’t want him to put too much pressure on himself to be a medalist on his first international trip with Team USA. I think he should just stop for a minute, look around, and take in the whole experience.
“This is obviously a good stepping stone for him, but I think in four years — after four years of college training — he might be in a position to have a chance to make an Olympic bid.”