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A Gifted Swimmer Reaches for Gold
The record board overlooking the Columbia Grammar & Prep swimming pool is filled with the names of the school’s fastest swimmers. For a decade or more, the board remained virtually unchanged with elite swim alumnae: Louise Kushner ’02, Alexandra Laurits ’02, and Anneka Ward ’03, to name a few. Over the past several years, there has been great movement on the record board, and today only one name stands out for its sheer multitude: Molly Brickman ’15. Molly has been a CGPS swimmer for nine years and currently holds every single individual school swim record, except one, and she is less than two seconds from grabbing that record, too.
Molly is a vital member of the outstanding Girls Varsity Swim team, which won the Athletic Association of Independent Schools (AAIS) championship last February in a thrilling victory against rival Sacred Heart. She is close to her teammates and enjoys the supportive camaraderie. Molly also competes at a top level for the 92nd Street Y’s year-round swim team, The Flying Dolphins.
“I go to a lot of meets, and try to focus on all the strokes,” said Molly. She practices every day after school for several hours, leaving little time for other extracurricular activities. Her summer plans include camp – swim camp, of course (and watching the Olympics!). But there are no regrets here. Swimming is her singular passion, and her fine-tuned dedication and hard work are undoubtedly paying off. “I like competing. I like to beat my times,” said Molly.
Molly swims with lightning speed, strength, and remarkable athleticism. Out of the water, she is gracious and easygoing. Her tall, slim frame may seem better suited to the basketball court than the swimming pool, but once in racing mode and slicing through the water, watch out!
Molly’s dizzying array of CGPS swim records includes the 50-yard freestyle (25.07); the 100-yard freestyle (53:31); the 200-yard freestyle (1:54.64); the 500-yard freestyle (5:06.13); the 100-yard butterfly (1:00.15); the 100-yard backstroke (59.79); and the 200-yard individual medley (2:12.50). She was also part of the record-breaking 200-yard medley and the 400-yard freestyle relay teams, which included her talented teammates and friends, Amanda Fuchs ’13, Sophie Siegel ’15, and Sabrina Kleckner ’15.
Molly’s swim career began in first grade with the legendary Jim Spellman. The indefatigable Mr. Spellman has led the school’s extraordinary Swim Club — which includes a top-notch group of teachers and coaches — for more than 30 years. Natalie Brickman ’18, Molly’s younger sister, is also an accomplished CGPS swimmer who is flourishing in the program.
With Molly’s exceptional performances in the pool, an exciting future awaits her. The 2016 Olympics could go from far-off dream to actual possibility. “If Molly continues to swim and if she continues to progress, she has a chance to make some U.S. Olympic trials swimming times,” said Mr. Spellman.
Even with her Olympic aspirations, Molly remains grounded: “The Olympic trials are a long way off,” she said, explaining that she must get through sectionals, junior nationals, and then nationals before trying for the ultimate competition.
In the meantime, she is determined to continuously improve her speed and agility – while supporting younger swimmers, succeeding in her academic classes, and maintaining close friendships. That’s quite a juggling act for a 15-year-old, but Molly seems to handle her strenuous schedule with grace and good humor.
“Molly is a delightful young woman whose talents, skill, and humility have endeared her to our school community,” commented Naomi Randolph, one of Molly’s Varsity Swim coaches. “Her journey as an athlete began here at CGPS, and it is been a pleasure for us to coach and mentor her these past three years.”