There is something endearing about talking to Corona del Mar High senior Brynne Wong.
She is one of the top prep swimmers in Southern California, but she never appears to be aloof. "Sometimes I swim … just sometimes," she proclaims on her Twitter profile.
Wong always seems to be smiling, seeing the humor in a given situation, even one involving herself.
Take, for example, her experience last summer at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. She was there to swim the 100-meter butterfly. And, she admitted, she was terrified.
"It was really fun, but it was one of the scariest things I've ever done," Wong said. "It's weird to think that you can get scared swimming in front of a lot of people. I didn't even know I could, but I did."
She said she was accidentally wearing a suit that was a size too small at the meet. She could barely even get her arms over her head in the warm-up pool.
"I just didn't want to get disqualified," said Wong, who swam a 1:02.97 on that day. "I'm glad that was my first [Olympic Trials]. Hopefully the next time I go, I'll be less freaked out."
To be sure, the University of Texas-bound Wong is almost always graceful in the water. The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week will certainly be a swimmer to watch at the CIF Southern Section Division 1 finals, set for Saturday night at Riverside City College.
The meet signifies the end of a sparkling four-year career for Wong, who holds the school record in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100 butterfly. That's been true since Wong was a sophomore. In terms of the CdM record board, she continues to race against herself, slicing fractions of a second off those times. She's also part of school-record 200 and 400 freestyle relays; both of those times were lowered at last week's Pacific Coast League finals as well.
Wong had a huge day. She also won her events, the 50 free in 23.34 seconds (lowering her own school record) and the fly in 54.64. Both were meet records, and both were automatic All-American times.
She got girls' swimmer of the meet at league finals, an impressive task for someone not on the winning team. CdM finished a strong second to Uni, and looks for a top-five finish at CIF and maybe more. Wong qualified third in Division 1 in each of her events at preliminaries.
She is leaving quite a legacy for the Sea Kings. It's the result of a lot of hard work for Wong, who swims up to three-and-a-half hours a day with her club team, Aquazots, and Coach Todd Hickman.
But she also really enjoys high school swimming.
"It's weird that it's almost over," she said. "I still feel like I'm a freshman. I just don't feel like I'm old enough to be a senior yet.
"I do want to leave something here, just because [high school] has been such an important part of my swimming. I want my name to be up there [on the record board]. When I came in as a freshman, I was like, 'OK, I want that record, and I want that one.' Hopefully, that's what some of my times will be for some of the younger girls."
The younger girls on the team would do well to idolize Wong's fast times, but they also should study the way she leads CdM's girls. She's the furthest thing from the stereotype that can exist, the dedicated club swimmer who only casts a cold shoulder to her teammates.
"She fits in really well with the team, especially since the majority of our team is water polo," said fellow senior Ally McCormick, who will swim at BYU. "I think that she understands that. She's competitive, but if we don't do well, she's never gotten bummed at us or anything. I remember last year, when we DQ'ed in two of our CIF relays, she wasn't bummed at all. She's always competitive, but she still understands that stuff happens sometimes.
"It's just fun having her on our team. She's just a great teammate."
Wong does have individual goals for her last CIF finals meet. She said she would like to go a 53 in the butterfly, and a 22 in the freestyle. Both times would be personal-bests.
She qualified behind two quick sophomores, Abbey Weitzeil of Saugus and Kaitlyn Albertoli of JSerra, in the 50 free. Weitzeil set the meet record of 22.58 seconds at preliminaries.