For over 50 years Council Rock North has stood for excellence and commitment in Lower Bucks swim circles. During that span, many a stellar athlete has displayed their talents in the Indian’s natatorium. Senior Ellie Brandbergh certainly ranks right up there with those upholding these time-honored traditions of dedication, skill and team loyalty.
Ellie started swimming when she was eight years old, an early introduction that led to a life time involvement. “The team I started with had a really good coach who was really motivating. I think once I got to the higher level meets I got more competitive and serious about it. It started becoming my life.”
Ellie soon learned that swimming is both demanding and rewarding. She presently swims for both Council Rock North and the Central Bucks Swim Team. That means getting up at five every other morning to practice with the Indians. After school she joins up with the Central Bucks team for a tough, two-and-a-half hour workout. Every Saturday its back to Central Bucks for another three-hour session.
Such a grueling schedule has taught Ellie some real life lessons. “The sport is really demanding. It’s almost like a job. You have to go to bed early and make sure you get a good night’s sleep. You have to be really motivated to get your school work done and then go to practice and work hard there. You have to sacrifice your social life a little bit. You can’t stay out late with your friends.”
The rewards come with swimming with such a powerhouse as Council Rock. The girls’ team has won 11 straight Suburban One League titles. Since the split of the school district in 2002 they have racked up an impressive 172-28 record. Ellie relishes being surrounded by such an armada of swim talent. “I love swimming with such a great team. It makes me more confident going into the meets. The other teams know we are going to be good competition so it’s always a good race.”
The other also teams know facing Ellie is a monumental task. She swims the 200-medley relay, the 200 free relay, the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly. “My favorite events are also my best. I like the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly. I also like the relays because I love doing the 50’s. I like sprinting.”
Last year, Ellie finished seventh in the backstroke event in the Pennsylvania AAA High School State Championships. She recorded a time of 56.33. “You focus on your kick a lot in this stroke and your pull under the water. The tempo of your arm speed is really important especially in the 100.”
She also swam the butterfly in 56.99 at states. “The motion of that stroke kind of came naturally to me but I really had to work on the pull over my body and pushing the water out. You have to keep up your kick throughout the race because if you don’t, you’re going to drag your legs along. You have to use a lot of your core strength.”
During the regular season dual meets, transitioning between events can prove really challenging. “After the fly it is pretty nice because the 500 free is after it so I get a little bit of a break. It’s really hard going from the 200 relay into the backstroke because your legs are shot. I try to walk around and shake my legs and drink some water before my next race.”
All the sacrifice and effort have already left Elli with a lifetime of memories. She lists two in particular that standout. “My first big accomplishment was winning the SOL my freshman year in the 100 fly. I also broke a minute for the first time. Also, the states last year with my 200 relay team. We did really well. We broke the record for the first time,”
Entering the last phase of her high school will be a bitter-sweet time for Ellie who has committed to swim for Penn State next year. “I’ll miss the bond I have with my teammates. We’re with each other all the time. Sometimes I see my teammates more than I see my own family. We are all so close and open with each other. We help each other through the bad times. I’ll really miss that bond with them but I’m going to move on and have that bond with other girls in college too.”
Ellie’s swim legacy will undoubtedly remain a longtime at Council Rock. With over a month left in the season, she is already listed on their record board in the 100 butterfly, the 100 backstroke, the 200 free relay, and the 200 medley relay. That should give many a future Indian swimmer a goal to shoot for.