Brandon Bolde realized he could not always be pushed by his competition. The Wheeler sophomore distance swimmer dedicated himself to building a stronger internal drive.
"I felt like I could've done more myself last season," Bolde said. "I went to a friend's house the night before last year's (Greater South Shore Conference) meet. I didn't shave for the sectional prelims. Last year I didn't take it that serious.
"I didn't care as much as I should have."
Instead of dwelling on what might have been, Bolde adopted a stricter dieting regimen, did dry-land training in the offseason and resolved to ask more of himself at practices and meets.
Not only did Bolde win two events at last Saturday's GSSC event, he broke meet records in the 200-yard free (1:55.83) and 500 free (5:12.67).
"I didn't hang out with people the night before the meet, and I got more sleep," Bolde said. "I was really surprised with the 500; I still have some energy left," Bolde said. "That makes me feel like I can go even faster."
Bolde picked the sport when he was 5 years old, following in the footsteps of older sister and current Bearcats girls swimmer Allie Bolde.
He's competed with the Union Twp. age-group team for many years. Under the advice of club coach Adam Kimczak, the Bearcats girls swim coach, he took up a healthier diet. He also did training sessions with South Central sophomore swimmer Kane Klimczak, Bolde's club teammate.
"I just feel a lot better about myself," Brandon Bolde said. "I'm really excited for the rest of the season."
Wheeler coach Rob Gass is also very interested to see Bolde continue to develop into a very-competitive distance swimmer. Gass, who won the state 200 free crown in 1984 for Bishop Noll, believes Bolde has a great opportunity to break the Bearcats' record in the 200 (1:48.93) and 500 (4:52.24), set in 2001 by Henrique Fortes
"He's a hard worker, and he's got a great attitude," Gass said of Bolde. "We haven't had anyone decent (in the distances) since Fortes. I think (Bolde) will have those records before he leaves."
Gass was also impressed by Bolde's 19-second win in the 500 free.
"That's not easy being out there alone like that; it's nice to have someone else out there pushing you," Gass said. "He's has some easy races and hasn't been pushed, but he's working hard on his strategy."
Bolde placed ninth in the 200 free (1:55.44) at last year's LaPorte Sectional, actually swimming a time that would've been sixth in the championship. That effort plus his recent successes have Bolde eager for the postseason.
"I just love swimming at LaPorte; I believe it's my favorite pool," he said. "I'll be swimming against great competition, and I feel so fast there."