Blueseventy Swim of the Week: Brandon James turns state record into national record


Disclaimer: BlueSeventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The BlueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Junior College swimming in the United States is mostly broken up into two different leagues: the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA).

Both keep their own sets of records, but California’s are technically considered “state records,” as the league is comprised of California-based schools.

But this spring, Diablo Valley’s Brandon James took the California state record to new heights, actually passing up the NJCAA “national” record in the 200 backstroke.

James surpassed the mark twice in the span of a month, first winning the Big 8 Conference title in 1:45.18, then taking the CCCAA championship in 1:44.95.

Both times are faster than the NJCAA mark set at 1:45.19 by Indian River’s Stefan Stojmenovic back in March.

That also represents a big time drop for James, who is still a college freshman. A club swimmer for the Terrapins, James’ best time prior to the 2015 postseason, per USA Swimming’s SWIMS database, was 1:46.30, done in December of 2014.

That means in that in the span of just over four months, James cut nearly a second and a half. Equally impressive: James only broke 1:50 for the first time in his career in December of 2013, and has had a huge trajectory from that point.

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Congratulations to Brandon James! I hope we’ll see him swim well at Olympic Trials next year!

It seems to me that if a swimmer was not quite at the level, either athletically or academically, to win a scholarship to college for swimming, it would make a lot of sense to swim/study at a community college to try to improve his/her times/grades and then transfer, if possible, if for no other reason than the fact that most community colleges I’m aware of are less expensive. This would be especially true for a “late bloomer” or somebody who had taken up the sport later than many of his peers.

I suspect Brandon James will be high on Bob Bowman’s “Must Recruit” list for Arizona State. Diablo Valley JC is a short distance from Berkeley and Cal, but Brandon will likely have a number of Division 1 offers.


My understanding from people who know Brandon, is that it has taken him awhile to get adjusted to his just finished growing frame ( 6′ 6″ I’m told and about 195-200 lbs.) At least finished growing height wise, just wait till he puts on some more muscle. A number of very talented athletes needed to finish high school and finish growing before their real talent became recognizable. I see that he also swam 44 for the 100 free at the State Meet as lead off for the 400 free relay and a 1:40 as lead off for the 800 free relay. Looks like his best time in the 100 free was a 46.94 less than 9 months ago and the… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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