She was a state swimming star. Now this Richland High grad is joining a new pro league

Former Texas A&M swimmer Lisa Bratton, a five-time individual state champion for Richland High School, is shown in this file photo.
Former Texas A&M swimmer Lisa Bratton, a five-time individual state champion for Richland High School, is shown in this file photo.

Last December, Richland High graduate Lisa Bratton won the women’s 200-meter backstroke title at the 2018 FINA Short Course World Championships in Hangzhou, China.

It was Bratton’s first victory since turning professional after completing her college eligibility at Texas A&M in the spring of 2018.

Since then, the 23-year-old has been concentrating on completing her studies at A&M. She did that this spring.

As for swimming?

Aside from practicing, Bratton hasn’t competed much professionally.

She’ll next swim in the World University Games in Naples, Italy, in July.

Then she’ll get ready to swim for the DC Trident.

Lisa Bratton supplied file
Lisa Bratton, a former Richland High standout, recently won a national swimming title. Courtesy Melissa Lundie

The what?

The Trident. It’s one squad of eight teams, located in the United States and Europe, that comprise the new International Swimming League.

It sounds like the swimming version of Team Tennis.

The ISL has already signed 200 of the world’s top swimmers to compete in this league.

Started by Ukrainian financier Konstantin Grigorishin, the ISL has four teams in the United States: the Cali Condors (based out of San Francisco), the DC Trident (Washington, D.C.), the Los Angeles Current and the New York Breakers.

The four teams from Europe are the Aqua Centurions (Rome), Energy Standard (Paris), the London Roar and Team Iron (Budapest).

But all team rosters are filled with swimmers of various nationalities: Americans mixed in with Australians, Canadians, Europeans, etc.

Bratton_Lisa mug
Lisa Bratton

For Bratton, she’ll be a teammate of Olympian Katie Ledecky, former Olympian Natalie Coughlin and men’s 2016 Olympian Cody Miller.

Each team will have a roster of 28 swimmers and will use 12 men and 12 women at each of their meets, which are scored as a team competition.

It’s another way to bring some money into a sport that normally doesn’t get as much attention unless it’s during an Olympic year.

For Bratton, that’s a good thing. She’s not getting rich swimming.

“Oh no, I’m not getting rich. I’m making a little money,” she said. “But because I live in College Station, my expenses are low. For most swimmers, the biggest avenue for money is with sponsors. (Bratton has none). The USOC (United States Olympic Committee) pays a stipend to athletes, so I get some money each month.”

In the ISL, she’ll get a small salary – salaries will vary depending on the international renown of certain swimmers.

The chance to make more bonus money occurs if a swimmer places in an event, and the teams that advance to the season final make more bonus money.

Bratton herself is just starting to get caught up on the ISL.

“I knew about the league back in December,” she said. “I was recruited in the spring. But I was trying to graduate and I didn’t pay much attention.”

Now that she has her degree, majoring in ocean engineering, she’s concentrating a little more on the swimming for a while.

“I’m swimming the first two days of the World University Games, July 4 and 5, but I’m hoping to be on a relay team,” she said. “Then the ISL will fill out my fall.”

The ISL begins Oct. 4-5 in Indianapolis.

But meets are scheduled over the following three weekends in Naples, Dallas, and Budapest.

On Nov. 15-17, the four U.S. teams meet in Washington, D.C.; on Nov. 23-24, the four European teams meet in London.

The top two teams in each of those meets will advance to the ISL Finals, set for Dec. 20-21 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Bratton’s team will compete Oct. 4-5 in Indianapolis and Oct. 12-13 in Naples before the U.S. Derby in Washington, D.C., Nov. 15-17.

“I talked to the coach, and I’ll compete anywhere from the 50 meters all the way up to the 200 backstroke,” Bratton said. “And I’ll do relays as needed.”

Bratton doesn’t see herself swimming much longer.

“I enrolled in grad school in the fall (in ocean engineering),” she said. “I’m only taking six credits to start in the fall because of all the travel for swimming I’ll do. I’ll go into December on swimming, and I might go another year.”

Maybe she’ll defend her World Short Course title in the women’s 200-meter backstroke in Abu Dhabi in 2020.

“But after 2020, I’m probably done,” she admitted.

Meanwhile, she’s hoping this new professional format will stir some excitement among fans around the world.

“I think with a Friday night-Saturday meet format, people will come,” Bratton said. “(ISL officials) are hoping for a lot of television coverage, too. I’m excited. I think it’s a great way to publicize swimming in a non-Olympic year. It’s a team competition, and somebody can get behind a team.”

Richland signings

Here is a list of Richland High School athletes who participated in the letter-of-intent signings a few weeks ago:

Bailey Carr, women’s cross country and track, Colorado State; Aric Davison, football, Utah State; Nicole Gall, women’s basketball, Northwest Nazarene; Emily Garza, softball, University of South Carolina Upstate; Sydney Jenkins, volleyball, Baker University (Kansas); Taylor Johnson, baseball, Spokane Community College; Alaina Lacey, volleyball, University of Idaho; Riley Moore, men’s cross country and track, Gonzaga; Cole Northrop, men’s basketball, Simon Fraser University; Sydney Perryman, softball, University of South Dakota; Gracie Pierce, women’s basketball, Northwest Christian University (Eugene); Marae Romero, women’s soccer, Columbia Basin College; Lindsay Rosenthal, volleyball, Seattle Pacific; Cody Sanderson, football, Central Washington University; Jack Schuster, football, University of Idaho.

Zamora continues to shine

Kennewick native Brittney Zamora. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

Kennewick’s Brittney Zamora continues to do well for Bill McAnally Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro West Series.

She placed fourth out of 14 drivers at the fifth series race, this one in Erie, Colo., on June 8.

Zamora was the highest-placing rookie in the race.

She’s also currently fifth of 20 drivers in the season standings.

SCAC East all-league tennis

Here are the Mid-Columbians who made the SCAC East all-league tennis team this spring:

Wahluke senior Leuri Sandoval was first-team boys singles, while Wahluke sophomore Janet Nunez was first-team girls singles.

Connell’s James Colclasure and Ethan Morrill combined to be named first-team boys doubles, while Connell’s Macy Knight and Jacey Naef were first-team girls doubles.

Second-teamers are as follows: Royal senior Jesus Vasquez, boys singles; Connell sophomore Rosa Saucedo, girls singles; Connell’s Silas Chase and Tanner Peterson, boys doubles; and Connell’s Areli Garcia and Nancy Vargas, girls doubles.