Gatorzone.com – Photo, Florida Swim Network
Gator senior swimmer Brad deBorde got his start in the water because he was hot.
“I would be coming from soccer practice and it was so hot that I would just get into the water. The coaches saw me and were like, ‘your brother is trying out; do you want to try out, too?’ It was kind of natural,” deBorde said.
Though his start as a swimmer was a natural process, his journey to the top of collegiate swimming was far from it.
Brad deBorde, a 14-time All-American, 2012 SEC champion in the 50 freestyle and vital member of the men’s team that took the SEC title this past February, wasn’t a touted recruit coming out of high school.
Unlike many of his fellow swimmers, he wasn’t pursued by numerous colleges.
As fate would have it, on the day he won the Florida state title in the 200 freestyle as a high school senior, Florida Head Coach Gregg Troy caught glimpse of him and saw he had found a future star.
“When he [Coach Troy] saw me win states, he called me the next day and spoke a lot to me about having potential,” said deBorde.
The phone call changed deBorde’s life, as he had never thought he would receive the attention of one of the best swimming coaches and programs in the nation.
“It meant a lot that he was there and even with how little knowledge I had back then about swimming, I had heard about him and obviously about Ryan’s [Lochte] accomplishments and about the famous coaching staff here,” deBorde admitted.
Despite a positive high school career, deBorde’s arrival on the Florida campus represented an awakening of sorts.
Things were different, tougher.
“From my high school experience, I really didn’t have any guys to push me or train with. And then when I came here, there would be people doing my best times in practice; seeing that just expanded my horizons in a way that I was able to learn more about myself. I realized that the things you think are impossible can be achieved,” he said. “I’ve learned how to push yourself beyond limits. Because swimming is based on a clock, which is like an impartial judge, you really know where you are at all times. In training you learn your limits, what you can do, and then you learn to exceed those.”