Stanford's Brickelle Bro uses Cardinal training to prepare for 2016 Paralympics
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — Brickelle Bro swims lap after warm-up lap in the pool. She finishes her prelim race and, later in the day, stands with her team cheering on her Cardinal teammates as they break the American 400 medley relay record.
“It’s just such an amazing community. The girls are so supportive of each other, and we’re like a family,” Bro says. “I feel closer to them than anyone else at school, and it’s amazing to come to meets and just see how supportive they are of each other and know they’re behind me, too.”
It almost seems like freshman Bro was meant to end up at The Farm.
“Stanford is actually the only school that was going to let me swim with them. Greg [Meehan] is an amazing coach, and I knew that I loved swimming so much that I had to keep doing it.”
Bro’s story isn’t that of your typical recruit. Born without her feet, the Colorado native grew up learning to walk and run on prosthetics. But it never slowed her down.
“When I was born, there wasn’t a whole lot of info for my parents about growing up disabled. They got a lot of comments from doctors like, ‘Oh, she’s never going to walk but, you know, they’re making great strides in wheelchairs,’ and that was, to say the least, not encouraging.
So, as I kind of got older, and got into swimming, and went to the Paralympics, my parents were like, ‘being disabled is nothing.’”
Bro took that mentality and ran with it. She started swimming around age eight on a summer team before deciding that she needed to swim year-round. She swam on her high school team before making the 2012 USA Paralympics team and competing in London.
During that span, she started the MyFeetDon’tStink Foundation to create a community of encouragement and support for girls with disabilities. No big deal.
In 2014, she made the Pan Pacific-Para team, and later broke the Paralympic American record at the Colorado Swimming Senior Meet, finishing 1,000 yards in 12:48.81.
And she’s not done. Bro is currently training for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Being a part of the Cardinal swim team, she says, has helped prepare her for the competition ahead.
“Training with the Stanford women’s swim team is amazing. It’s so hard, but I can already tell I’m getting faster. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked before.”
Competing at the Pac-12 – one of the most competitive conferences in the country – Championships has also prepped Bro in new and challenging ways.
“The competition is so fierce, but then being a part of a team and, especially being a part of such an amazing team that’s so fast and so tight-knit - there aren’t words…This competition has done well in preparing me for the level of stress, but also, it’s a good opportunity to build on the teamwork in such an individual sport, and kind of enjoy cheering for a team, and listening for your team cheering for you.”
Come August, there’s going to be an entire Pac-12 community cheering for Brickelle.