When the nation’s elite swimmers converged on Omaha for the U.S. Olympic Trials, a Webb City High School student was there competing alongside America’s best.
Aubree Brouwer recently finished her junior year at Webb City High School, where she’s an honor roll student.
She’s also an elite swimmer.
How elite? She’s among the country’s best.
Representing the Springfield Aquatics club team, the 17-year-old Brouwer competed in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic Trials last week at Omaha’s CHI Health Center.
“It was definitely a very incredible experience,” Brouwer told SoMo Sports. “It wasn’t like anything I’ve gone to before. Just getting to race with the big stars and to go through what they do was really interesting. And just getting that experience was really fun.”
At the trials, the top two finishers in each event qualified to represent Team USA next month in Tokyo, along with the top six in the freestyle races to fill out the relays.
Brouwer finished 35th in the prelims of the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 10 seconds. There were 56 entrants in the event.
She was 37th in the prelims of the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:33.98.
Brouwer was one of the youngest swimmers in both events.
“I was OK with how I swam,” Brouwer said. “I would have liked to do a little bit better. But I was able to learn some things. Honestly, the meet was very nerve-racking for a lot of people. Overall, I’m happy with how I swam.”
Brouwer qualified for the trials back in 2019 by recording a time of 1:09.33 in the 100 breaststroke and swimming a 2:32.35 in the 200 breaststroke at the Speedo Junior Nationals.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic delayed the trials and the Tokyo Olympics by a year.
For Brouwer, competing at the Olympic Trials was the culmination of years of hard work.
Brouwer has been swimming competitively since she was 6-years-old, getting her start with the Webb City-based Berzerker Swimming club team.
In 2018, Brouwer joined the Springfield Aquatics squad, which trains at Drury University.
Brouwer definitely invests a lot of time into honing her skills. She travels to Springfield for practices Monday through Saturday. And she competes with her club team all over the country year-round.
Brouwer pointed out she hasn’t become a standout swimmer on her own, as many people have played a role in her success.
“My parents (Cassie and Steve Brouwer) have sacrificed a lot of time for my swimming,” Brouwer said. “I appreciate that so much. My coach in Springfield, Thomas Baumann, has been huge in my swimming career. I wouldn’t be at this level without him.
“And all of my friends are so supportive,” she continued. “Some of them even came to the trials and I know a lot of them watched me on TV. They’re always cheering me on, so that always makes me feel great.”
Brouwer has already verbally committed to North Carolina State, where she’ll continue her athletic and academic career after her final year of high school in Webb City concludes.
“I talked to a lot of schools during the recruiting process and NC State reached out to me pretty early,” Brouwer said. “There’s a lot I like about NC State. They seemed to have everything I was looking for. I’m really excited about going there.”
So what’s next for Brouwer?
“I have a meet in a couple of weeks and then I’m going to take a break from racing until the fall,” Brouwer said.
As far as her future, Brouwer has lofty goals and big dreams, including one day representing Team USA on the biggest stage of all, the Olympics.
She’ll likely get another shot to do just that in a few years at the next Olympic Trials.
“I hope to be back at the trials in three years,” Brouwer said. “I’ll be with my college teammates by then, so it should be really fun. I’m definitely looking forward to that.”
And after competing alongside the nation’s best at just 17-years-old, Brouwer noted the experience gained by competing at this year’s Olympic Trials will be greatly beneficial going forward.
“I think it will make me more confident at the meets I have coming up,” Brouwer said. “And it showed me that I’m at a pretty high level now. It was also really motivating for me. I want to keep making goals and I’ll keep striving for them.”