The Salisbury men’s and women’s swim teams left the Capital Athletic Conference Championships with fourth-place finishes. Senior Josh Brown was named the swimmer of the meet and the CAC Men’s Swimmer of the Year.
Brown said the award reflects well on the university.
“It’s great, especially for Salisbury swimming. It’s good to have not only swimmer of the meet, but swimmer of the year goes to Salisbury,” Brown said.
Brown becomes the second-ever Sea Gull to win CAC Athlete of the Year under head coach Jill Stephenson and the first to win CAC Swimmer of the Meet.
Stephenson said it was an honor to see one of her athletes win both awards this season.
“It’s awesome … We’ve only had one other male swimmer receive that in all the years I’ve been here,” Stephenson said. “[For Brown] to be the first recipient of the new award, that’ll forever be history.”
Brown won three individual conference championships in the 50-yard free, 100-yard fly and 100-yard IM. He also medaled in the 200-yard free, 200-yard medley, 400-yard free and 400-yard medley.
He broke his own school records in the 50-yard free, both in prelims by a tenth of a second (20.71) and in the finals (20.46). His school record in the 100-yard fly also fell with a time of 49.78.
The conference record in the 100-yard IM would not survive the meet either, as Brown topped the mark by .64 seconds with a time of 51.18.
Brown said coming into the meet, he was focused on fighting until the end.
“When you get behind the blocks at championships, [it’s] just putting everything behind you and coming in with the mentality that you want to win and fight and do whatever it takes to win,” Brown said.
But Brown’s career did not begin in the maroon and gold. Brown transferred from Saint Bonaventure University in New York to come to Salisbury University.
The former Bona Wolf said he was attracted to Salisbury’s affordability, exercise science program and swim team.
Brown said meeting the swim team helped him feel more comfortable during the transition.
“When I stepped foot on campus, I really liked the campus atmosphere. I enjoyed that a lot,” Brown said. “Then when I met the swim team, I felt that I really fit in very well with [them], and that meant a lot to me being a transfer for [Salisbury to have] a close team.”
Stephenson has seen Josh improve in maturity, academics and athletic performance from when he joined Salisbury to now.
“He was a very solid swimmer when he came in here, and he’s done nothing but get faster,” Stephenson said.
Brown was the second Sea Gull to be named CAC Swimmer of the Week earlier in the season, during the week of January 27th. In SU's one-point victory at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Brown won the 50-yard free in 21.58, the 100-yard fly in 54.59 and the 200-meter freestyle medley relay with fellow senior Richard Baker and juniors Kyle Russle and Brandon Hogland with a time of 1:39.48.
The Sea Gull coaching staff has had a big impact on Brown. Trusting their process, Brown feels he has made the most of the opportunities afforded to him as the Sea Gulls prepared for competition this season.
“I’m very thankful I have been able to drop time every year here at a pretty consistent basis,” Brown said. “Even if I wasn’t always in the right head space, I think that the training and teammates I had around me really helped me out dropping time.”
Stephenson said Brown is a leader and a role model for some of the younger members on the team.
“[The freshmen] have seen him every day after practice get out and work with our assistant coach on starts, and they have really seen what it means to put your heart and soul into it and work for what you want,” Stephenson said.
As Brown awaits potential seeding in the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships, he said he is trying to stay in the best shape possible.
Despite Maggs Pool being closed due to renovations, Brown has found a way to stay in shape and stay in the pool.
“I’m back in the weight room some getting my strength back a little bit,” Brown said. “Because we don’t have the pool right now, I’ve been swimming with my club team some days.”
The Division III Championships take place from March 18 to March 21 in Greensboro, N.C.
By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: Sports Information image.