As high school seniors, Lisa Bratton and Danielle Freund were at the top of their sports in the state of Washington.
Bratton capped her Richland High School swim career in November 2013 by winning her fourth and fifth titles at the Class 4A state meet. Freund, of Southridge, claimed the Class 3A championship in 1-meter diving.
This week, the college freshmen will see where they stand against fellow NCAA athletes.
Bratton is one of 16 Texas A&M swimmers who will compete Thursday through Saturday at the Division I women’s championships in Greensboro, N.C. She is entered in the 200-yard backstroke and the 200 and 400 individual medley.
Freund, who attends Trinity University in San Antonio, will dive in the 1- and 3-meter events at the Division III championships in Shenandoah, Texas.
Bratton enters NCAAs as the school record-holder in the 200 back. She clocked the record time of 1 minute, 52.60 seconds at last month’s Southeastern Conference championships in Auburn, Ala., finishing third in the A final.
On paper, Bratton appears poised to help Texas A&M achieve its goal of a top-four team finish. She is seeded 10th in the 200 back, 15th in the 400 IM and 22nd in the 200 IM.
“NCAAs is a really fast meet,” Bratton said. “My goal is to swim fast in the morning and get in the A final. That’s step one. If I make it in an A final, we’ll see how fast we can go.”
Bratton’s season took off in November with her victory in the 200 back at the Art Adamson Invitational in College Station, Texas. She swam a 1:53.19, which at the time ranked second in school history.
“It was a big confidence boost,” Bratton said. “It was like, ‘This is where I stand now — what else can I do?’ because we really didn’t taper for that, either. I felt strong and thought, ‘It’s gonna be a good season.’ ”
Freund suffered a bone bruise on her foot while warming up for a Jan. 24 meet in Chicago, but she was cleared in time to qualify for NCAAs at a regional zone meet last month in San Antonio.
Trinity diving coach Stan Randall has coached three NCAA women’s champions, but Freund, who won the 3-meter title at zones, isn’t focused this week on becoming No. 4.
“Whatever competition I go into, I’m just excited to dive, and I just trust his plans for me,” Freund said. “That takes some of the pressure off of me.”
Freund and fellow Trinity freshman Sarah Kate Mrkonich will dive today in the 3-meter event and Friday on the 1-meter board.
Bratton is among 281 qualifiers for the final meet of the Division I women’s swim season. Though she might have seemed a lock for NCAAs based on her résumé, which includes a third-place finish in the 200-meter backstroke at last summer’s U.S. national championships, she doesn’t take her spot for granted.
“It’s pretty incredible to think about. It’s awesome,” Bratton said. “It’s a national meet for collegiate swimmers. These are the best swimmers. To get to compete is a lot of fun.”