Brinkhoff set to shine in last scholastic swim meet
The 2014 PIAA Class AAA championships will shine a light on many stellar swimmers from the South Hills areas of Pittsburgh, as well as Washington County. However, the spotlight may beam brightest on Allie Brinkhoff, because the Bethel Park senior starts and ends the meet. She leads off the 200-yard medley relay team that also features Kelly Kramer, Megan Douds and Jessica Hirsch. She also anchors the same group in the 400-yard freestyle relay, which is the last event in the two-day finals being held March 12-14 at Bucknell University.
“I definitely like being the anchor better, because it could come down to the end [the last 50 yards] or you have to hold onto a lead,” said the 17-year-old daughter of Carol and Eric Brinkhoff. “Then again, the medley is the first event of everything and it’s important to get off to a great start. I never really thought about it but I guess either way it’s pretty cool.”
Thrilling would be for Brinkhoff and her friends to finish their scholastic careers with a bang. They are shooting to lower their WPIAL fourth-place time of 3:34.34 and secure all-America honors.
“The goal is to go for that. We’re shooting for that. It would be a first for me,” explained Brinkhoff. “My main goals at states are for my team. I want the relays to finish Top 16. Get Top 16 times,” she added.
While the 200 medley relay is looking to shave time off its fifth-place WPIAL time of 1:49.47, Brinkhoff, individually enters the meet as one of the top swimmers in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke. At the WPIAL District 7 finals, she recorded some of her career best times. Brinkhoff took third in the 200 IM in 2:06.70. She secured seventh in the back with a 58.28 time, an event in which Jacquelyn Du, a junior from North Allegheny, lowered her own record with a 54.20 mark.
“I thought WPIALs went well,” she said of the team’s sixth-place showing. “I was pleased with my IM. It was my best time by .01. Not a lot, but it counts [as a personal record]. But,” she continued, “I’m glad I get to swim the back again. I was not as pleased with that race. I feel like I could have gone faster.”
Even though she tapered for WPIALs, Brinkhoff expects to lower her times in both events at the PIAA championships.
“I think I’ll hang on for states and be better. It’s a little different [taper] but I’m holding out for states, too,” Brinkhoff said, and noted how the initial practices right after the district finals were challenging but have trailed off to ‘just sprints and a lot of IM and backstroke.’
That’s a far cry from winter break workouts. During those three-hour practice sessions, Brinkhoff and her teammates churned out 10,000 yards daily. Brinkhoff conceded the coaches push the swimmers to their limits on those days but agreed the effort has reaped rewards.
“I think it is worth it,” she said. “You realize you have to work hard to do well in everything.”
During her 12 years of swimming, Brinkhoff has done well. She is a five-time sectional qualifier on the amateur level as well as a four-time state and WPIAL qualifier in multiple events. Plus, she earned a scholarship to Toledo, where in addition to swimming, she will study engineering. Brinkhoff picked the Rockets over Akron, Delaware and Rhode Island.
“I liked the team, the coaches and the assistants,” she said of her selection. “The swim team fit me. I’ll get to swim the 100 back and 200 IM. So I’m happy with that.”
While she looks forward to her development at the college level, Brinkhoff anticipates a grand hurrah in her last scholastic meet. “I definitely like to get better and do some things on the college level as well but I’m going to try and enjoy the rest of the way. I’m proud of what I have accomplished but I’m really excited for states. It’s my last one. I’m going to try and take it all in and remember it. I’d like to see fast swims and be part of the meet as a whole.”
Allie Brinkhoff File
Parents: Eric and Carol
Siblings: Christy, Katie, Eric
High school: Bethel Park
Achievements: Five-time sectional qualifier; Four-time PIAA and WPIAL qualifier.
Activities: National Honor Society. Lifeguarding at Mt. Lebanon Swim Center
College choice: Toledo
Favorite color: Blue. “And, not because water is blue.”
Favorite athlete: Ryan Lochte. “I got to meet him and get my picture taken with him. Yes, he is that good looking.”
Celebrity crush: Justin Timberlake.
Favorite class: World Geography. “It’s interesting learning about other places different from United States.”
Travel spot: I’d like to go to the Carribean, someplace where it’s warm, or Germany.
Best teacher: Alicia Pacek (chemistry)
When not swimming: I enjoy eating, sleeping and hanging out with friends.
Favorite food: Cookies.
Best eatery: Red Robin
Best film: “Frozen”
Favorite song: “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake