OMAHA, Neb. - Grand Canyon University (GCU) swimmer Michael Branning recorded a personal best time of 23.05 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle June 30 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.
Unfortunately only the top two finishers in each event make the U.S. Olympic team, and Branning's time was good for a tie for 41st place among the 170 competitors in the event.
While 41st place may seem like a long way from the Olympics, it's actually a good spot for a young swimmer like Branning. In fact, the 19-year-old had the fifth-fastest time in the 50-meter freestyle at the Trials among swimmers under 20-years-old.
Branning will be a junior this upcoming school year at GCU, a private Christian University in Phoenix. He was recruited out of Paradise Valley High School where he graduated in 2010. He was the Class 4A-I 200 freestyle and Class 4A-II 50 freestyle State Champion and two-time All-American. He was the 2009 Black Canyon Region Boys Swimmer of the Year and currently holds the school records at Paradise Valley in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly, and 4x50 freestyle relay.
Branning's mother Carol went to Williams High School and his grandparents, Carl and Faye Winslow, have lived in Williams since 1975. Branning's parents actually met attending GCU, then decided to stay in Phoenix where they have raised both Michael and his sister Jaclyn, who also swims for GCU.
As a matter of fact, Branning was in Williams Father's Day weekend swimming at the Aquatic Center for a workout on Saturday, June 16 during lap swim hours.
Branning placed second at the NCAA Division II Championships in the 50-meter freestyle as both a freshman and sophomore. He holds individual school records in the 50-meter freestyle and 200-meter freestyle, and is part of four school-record relay teams (200 free relay, 400 free relay, 800 free relay, and 200 medley relay).
Branning was named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) Freshman of the Year and has helped the GCU men's team to fourth and fifth place finishes at the NCAA Division II Championships his first two years. The finance major also received RMAC Second Team All-Academic status his sophomore year at GCU.
If Branning decides to swim again in four years to try for the 2016 Olympics he'll be out of college and in the prime of his swimming career. And at the rate he's improving each year, the future looks very bright for this young Arizona swimmer.