GREEN BAY (WFRV) – For many athletes, the alternate fall swimming season was enough of a challenge due to the schedule alone – a little over a month to prepare for state and all the best swimmers competing in a single division.
Now imagine tackling that after a year off of competition.
That was the hurdle Green Bay Preble junior Brigitta Neverman cleared this spring, navigating cancellations and restricted pool time due to the pandemic.
In the end, however, her physical and mental perseverance culminated in not one, but two gold medals at the state swimming championships in Waukesha Tuesday.
“It’s such a great feeling,” Neverman said. “I really missed that feeling, more than anything, of being proud of one of my races.”
Facing the best of the best, she had two races to be proud of.
Neverman entered the championship meet seeded third in the 200-yard individual medley and first in the 100-yard butterfly. Racing first in the IM, the junior edged her opponents to grab the first title of the night for the Green Bay United swim team.
But for Neverman, her greatest satisfaction was beating the clock.
“After the 2 IM, I looked up at the board and I got that time that I didn’t think I would touch again,” Neverman said of her 2:01.86-mark. “I dropped it by almost a second and a half, so I was so proud of my race.
“Then I looked up and saw my parents and they were proud of me, and it just feels so good to be proud of one of my races again.”
It was a long road back to the pool for Neverman and her Green Bay United teammates. Green Bay Public Schools didn’t return to activities until early January, and even then, swimmers had to wait until mid-February to get back in the pool on a limited basis.
Neverman did her best to stay physically ready by running and doing exercises in her family’s indoor pool, but between balancing the mental gymnastics, handling college recruiting and watching her peers be able to train fully, the pandemic year was a swimmer’s grind.
“Yeah, it was really hard, especially watching other people train and knowing I was so out of shape swimming-wise,” Neverman said.
“I tried to do everything I could to stay in shape, like my brother and I swam in the pool, but when they told us we were going to have an alternate season I was like, really? That’s exciting.”
The Illinois commit was able to put her best foot forward her junior season – even if she wasn’t quite true to form until sectionals.
In the end, Neverman was able to carry home her first two WIAA gold medals – but even for the ultra-competitor, the greater prize was just the ability to compete in her junior season.
“I didn’t really care how the season turned out, I was super excited just to have a season and now to have something really great come out of it was just an awesome bonus.”