Being a college swimmer is not an easy task, but being an America East (AE) Championship winner, a scholar, a captain, a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the organizer of an event to raise awareness for breast cancer is not something that many can say they have done. Senior Brooke Pettis has done all of those things and more, and is already having a successful season as a member of the women’s swimming and diving team. Pettis has yet to be defeated in the 100 and 200 fly events.
Pettis, who is originally from Buffalo, New York, first began swimming when she was just 5 years old and has stuck with the sport ever since. Pettis is a specialty swimmer, competing primarily in the 100 fly, 200 fly, 200 IM and as part of the 200 medley relay.
“Before I came to college, I did any event that my coach put me in, but I’ve specialized in the fly and the IM since coming to college,” Pettis said.
Specialized, however, may be an understatement, as Pettis tied for first place with UMBC sophomore Natalija Marin in the 100 fly with a time of 55.37 and came in fourth place in the 200 fly with a time of 2:04.26 in last February’s AE Championships. After the 100 fly preliminaries, Pettis was seeded third while Marin was seeded first; however, Pettis was determined to up her position. Pettis went out faster than Marin in the 100 fly with a split of 25.49 and finished with a split of 29.88, leading to her ultimate victory.
“I definitely have plans to defend [the 100 fly] title,” Pettis said. “I want it again; I think that would be awesome. [Marin] is a tough competitor. She’s a hard worker, so I’m a little worried, but I remember when we tied she immediately grabbed my hand and raised it together with hers, and I thought that that was such a classy thing to do. I think it’s so fun to race against her.”
Pettis, however, is concentrating on more than a win in this year’s AE Championships: she also wants a record in the 100 fly and is determined to get it by the end of the season, after putting in the long hours of training.
“I look at the pool record every day,” Pettis said. “The pool record is 55.05, and the team record is 54.52, and I do have a goal of beating the team record.”
BU head coach Brad Smith recognizes Pettis’ potential and believes that Pettis has a shot in beating at least one of these records.
“Brooke is within about one and a half seconds of [the team record], which is not unrealistic,” Smith said. “She’s going to have to be progressing the rest of the season to be able to get there. For championships last year, she was 55 mid. The pool record though, she’s even closer to, and I think she can definitely get the pool record.”
Pettis was recruited to the team in 2015, and during her time as a Binghamton swimmer, she has worked her way up to the position of captain. Pettis chose to use her position to set up the Code Pink Event last weekend, a meet against Colgate that helped spread breast cancer awareness. The team decorated the pool area in pink, and the entire team wore pink caps. There was also a table set up for open donations to the Roswell Cancer Research Institute, located in Pettis’ hometown of Buffalo.
“Brooke leads by example with her work ethic day in and day out,” Smith said. “She’s one of the hardest workers on the team. It was kind of a no-brainer for us for captaincy.”
Whether Pettis defends her AE Championship title, breaks the pool record or the team record, or continues her winning streak in the 100 fly and the 200 fly this season, she believes in one crucial element to being both a swimmer and a person.
“Every year I try to work harder than the year past,” she said.