American Michael Brinegar Withdraws from Worlds After COVID-19 Diagnosis

American open water swimmer Michael Brinegar has withdrawn from the World Championships in Budapest after a bout with COVID-19. He was originally scheduled to swim the 25 kilometer race, the longest event on the World Championship schedule.

He has been replaced on the entry lists by Simon Lamar, who was not originally entered in the meet.

Brinegar says that when he returned from the national team trip to an open water race in Portugal at the end of May he showed mild symptoms for two days. That race was also the final leg of American qualification for open water.

He first took an at-home test, which showed positive, and he followed that with a PCR test that also came back positive. Brinegar says that it took 4 days to get the results of his PCR test, and that “by that point I would be out of the water a minimum of 7 days and I would be less than 3 weeks out from swimming a 25k.

“It didn’t make sense to still compete at Worlds.”

Brinegar was previously one of three American swimmers who withdrew from the Short Course World Championships last December over rising concerns over COVID-19 in Doha and the possibility of having to quarantine abroad during the holiday if they tested positive. Michael Andrew and Rhyan White also withdrew from that meet.

Lamar finished 7th in the open water 10km race at US Nationals earlier this year, and 5th in the 5km event. The top four Americans in the 10km race were Brennan Gravley, Dylan Gravley, Joey Tepper, and Brinegar. Lamar was the next-best finisher in the 10k.

USA Swimming never announced the change, however entry lists reflect the updated lineup for the Americans.

At the end of the 2022 NCAA season, Brinegar opted to turn pro and forego the remainder of his collegiate eligibility at Indiana. At the time, he announced that he would move back to California to train with his high school coach Mark Schubert, though Schubert is on at least a 6 month assignment training swimmers in China.

In his freshman year at Indiana, he was the NCAA runner-up in the 1650 free. He took a redshirt year in the 2019-2020 season to train with Schubert in California in preparation for what was supposed to be the 2020 Olympic Trials. After the onset of the pandemic, that year’s NCAA Championship meet was canceled and the Olympic Games were postponed.

He placed 3rd in both the 800 and 1500 freestyles at the 2019 US National Championships.

He returned to Indiana for 2020-2021 and finished 10th in the mile at the NCAA Championships. He also won the Big Ten title in the event that year, making him the first Hoosier to do so since 1991.

He then qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games via 2nd-place finishes in both the 800 and 1500 freestyles at the 2021 US Olympic Trials. He finished 17th in both races in Tokyo.

For Lamar, who just completed his junior season at Harvard, this is a second World Championship appointment. He also raced the 25k at the 2017 World Championships, though he did not finish the race. He also was a bronze medalist in the 5k open water relay at the 2014 Junior World Championships and in the 7.5k at the 2016 Junior World Championships.

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Octavio Gupta
5 months ago


5 months ago

I’m sure it was a tough decision, but I cannot imagine trying to swim a 25K so quickly after having Covid. Brutal.

5 months ago

The athletes and the coaches need to wake up to people having lasting affects of COVID and other diseases. TEAM USA shouldn’t be risking worlds by being reckless with COVID and masking

Reply to  swimlikeafishdrinklikeafish
5 months ago

I am suprised that people aren’t wearing masks. I saw one Chinese swimmer in finals come out with mask on.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Anonymous
5 months ago

I think all the Chinese athletes have been. Saw a few wearing them on the podium as well.

It’s not a bad idea!

Steve Nolan
Reply to  swimlikeafishdrinklikeafish
5 months ago

I’ve seen a couple studies that suggest returning to exercise too soon increases risk for long Covid. Not great!

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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