From the comment section of our SEC Championships live recaps on Saturday:
“Brooks Curry!! That reaction did not disappoint!”
“He’s definitely had a breakout meet! Hadn’t even heard of him before this weekend.”
“ALL ABOARD BROOKS CURRY HYPE TRAIN”
February is a wonderful time for college swimming, complete with yearly recurring editions of “Who is so-and-so??” after a big breakout swim. LSU freshman Brooks Curry is the latest explosion, shredding a massive 41.81 to win the hotly-contested SEC title in his rookie year.
“I really wasn’t expecting that at all,” Curry said. “I was coming into the meet prepared, and just wanted to do my best and see what could happen. But that was crazy.”
The time, though a shock to many fans, wasn’t too far ahead of what Curry had been angling for much of the season.
“I had written down some goal times awhile ago,” he said. “I know for my 100 free it was like 42.3 or 42.4.”
Curry was also the conference runner-up in the 200 free (1:32.43) – and he says he actually trains up for the 200 distance as much as he focuses on the 100.
“I do a lot of 200 stuff,” he said of his training at LSU, where he spends most of his time in the “upper” group, working 200 pace training. “I’ll be in the lower group (100 and 50) every once in awhile.”
The training plan has worked, as Curry has seen major time drops across his freshman season. (See the chart below).
|Pre-LSU||Dec. 2019||Feb. 2020|
LSU head coach Dave Geyer said he and his staff expected big things from Curry, but were still surprised at the magnitude of the time drops.
“We knew there were going to be some big drops, but being honest I don’t think anyone on staff saw it being that big,” Geyer said. “In January he went 1:36.7 in a dual meet with a brief on. At that point we felt he had a great shot at making NCAA’s in the 200.
“Saturday night was fun obviously. If you listen to the broadcast of the meet, there were plenty of people that were shocked by that swim. Coach Steve [Mellor] has done a really great job with him this year with the balance of taking his talent and potential to its fullest and balance where his maturity is in the sport.”
Curry says his freshman year has been focused on training power and technique. He cited buckets as a big influence on his power, helping him get stronger in the water, and he also said he’s seen improvements in details like starts, streamlines and underwaters.
For Geyer, Curry’s SEC title was a sign of the freshman’s talent as a race.
“It’s apparent that Brooks has that ‘X-factor’ that you hear and see with some elite level talent,” Geyer said. “I saw that first start to come out last summer at Junior Nationals where he sort of had a break out meet. In our dual meets we knew he was a racer and enjoyed that atmosphere. He stepped up time and time again in our dual meets and just seems to really thrive and raise his own level the higher the competition got through the year. I sense with Brooks it’s not always about the time but more about putting himself in a position to win.”
Curry said he enjoyed the loud, intense atmosphere of the SEC Championships, and was looking forward to more high-level competition at NCAAs and beyond.
Based on last year’s times, Curry should be in line for an NCAA invite – it took 42.54 and 1:34.21 to make the NCAA meet last year. Not only that, but he’s on the cusp of what it took to make NCAA A finals a year ago: 41.76 and 1:32.42.
Further out, Curry says he’s planning to stay at LSU this summer through long course season. The Juniors meet Geyer referenced was part of a massive long course season in which Curry went from 23.8/53.8/1:57.8 in the long course freestyles to 23.1/50.0/1:51.4. The 50 and 100 are already under Olympic Trials cuts, and his 200 should be able to challenge for Trials cuts as well, if he can cut about seven tenths over the next few months.