Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Blind Student Competes for High School Swimming Team

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Blind Student Competes for High School Swimming Team

Article excerpt

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Despite being born blind, Alan Brint always has a clear vision for how he wants to be viewed by others - no differently than anyone else.

This attitude is especially evident at the swimming pool, where the Highland Park High School senior has spent the last four years training with and swimming against able-sighted competitors.

Brint branched out recently at the boys swimming state meet. He competed in all four of the events for athletes with disabilities. He didn't win any of the four (50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyles and 100 breaststroke) but he set personal-best times in each race. He finished third in two and fourth in two others for a fulfilling conclusion to his high school career.

"I would have liked to have gone a little faster, especially in the breaststroke, but you can't be too disappointed in setting PRs," said Brint, who began swimming as a young child and joined the Highland Park Aquatics Club that his high school coach Tim Sirois founded in 2006.

"I like that I had good competition in every race. In all the races, there was someone who I barely beat or who barely beat me and that makes it worthwhile."

One of the reasons for his success in the sport is that he treats swimming like he does everything else in his life - not as an obstacle but as an activity in which getter better is the only option.

That has meant countless 4:45 a.m. wake-up calls and honing the details of his craft, like trying to swim as straight as possible and learning when he's approaching the wall to turn.

"He counts strokes, absolutely," Sirois said. "At a meet, we'll tap him to let him know when to turn, when to finish."

Brint elected not to compete in the state meet as a junior but had Saturday's event circled on his calendar since last summer, when he kicked his training into high gear.

"Last year I wasn't the most motivated swimmer, but this year that all changed," said Brint, who will study business at Beloit College. …

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