Brennan Gravley: A Stellar Swimming Career and Champion’s Farewell
Brennan Gravley, a name synonymous with American swimming, has announced his retirement, marking the end of a stellar career.
Despite his promising start to the 2023 season with a silver medal in the 10k Open Water National Championships, Gravley faced a challenge. A 30th place finish in Fukuoka in the open water circuit hinted at a shifting tide. Later in the year, Gravley turned it all around and won gold at the Pan American Games in the 10k open water event.
On January 5, Gravley took to Instagram to announce his departure from competitive swimming, a move that left many in the swimming community reflecting on his impact. His message read:
“My friends and family have known this for a bit, but today I am officially retired from swimming.
I have nothing but gratitude for everything this sport has given me. I could type for days on end about all I’ve loved, and still I know I’d leave so much out. I have more friends than I could have imagined thanks to swimming. I have swam in beaches and coasts across the globe and explored cultures of stunning value and history. I have felt the true bliss of what it is like to be part of something much larger than myself, whether it be an 11-12 State relay record or an SEC championship team. Most of all, I have made what seems like a countless amount of memories that are equally priceless in their own individual moment.
I want to thank everyone that has been a part of this chapter of my life. It was, and always will be, YOU people in this incredible sport that made me so happy to be at the pool each and every day. It was always you that brought the best out of me.
To swimming, and to all of you included, I’ll always cherish you. See you around!”
A remarkable All-American swimmer, Gravely showcased his talents at the 2020 Olympic Trials, qualifying in both the 800 free and 1500 free. His collegiate career at the University of Florida included being named to the 2021 USA Swimming National Junior Team and earning All-SEC Second Team honors in 2020. Gravley excelled in the pool with personal-best times across multiple events and was a key member of the SEC Championship-winning team.
In open water swimming his notable achievements include winning the 2023 Pan American Games 10 km marathon swim in Chile, securing top spots in the USA Swimming National Open Water Championships in 2019, 2021 and 2022, and earning silver in team relay at the 2018 FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships in Israel. His consistent excellence placed him 5 times on the U.S. National Open Water Team and led to strong performances in events from the Crippen Cup in Florida to the Las Vegas Open Water Champions Cup.
In addition to his pool accomplishments, he has received consecutive SEC Academic Honor Rolls from 2021 to 2023 due to his academic excellence.
Some insights from Graveley about open water swimming from Episode 55 of the Kick Start podcast “Brennan Gravley on Open Water Nationals and Growing the Sport”
On Conserving Energy
It’s really about conserving as long as possible and swimming fast with as minimal effort. And I think that’s a real learning curve coming into open water for the first time as a pool swimmer, because there are plenty of guys have tons of speed that come in and do it, but they’re over aggressive and they don’t know how to manage energy and a two-hour race with no walls is not exactly a walk in the park, you know, so there’s a huge loss of momentum for guys that are dependent on walls and things like that.
I think there’s only so much you can do in the pool. We’ve had plenty of studs that rip in the pool and they still sometimes struggle with open water. Cause it’s more of getting that experience, learning how to manage your energy and especially emotional energy.
It’s a very relaxing experience if you do it, right. I think I’ve learned that a lot from our older people that came from the past, like I learned a lot about that from Haley. She used to really conserve really well. Haley Anderson.
She kind of showed us how you could conserve more and stay relaxed emotionally, kind of build the race. And I think that’s something that takes maybe half dozen to a dozen swims to kind of figure out. “
“Sometimes I want to take a feed just so I can have five seconds to not be swimming, like just so I can flip on my back and be like, Oh my God, this pace is insane. It’s good to see Matt’s face or see Bryce’s face for just five seconds. And then I got to go catch these Italians. Like sometimes it’s like that.Yeah. That I need that feed. So I think it just kind of depends on sometimes even just my mental state. I just need a little quick break and the fuel definitely does help.” “”
On the Open Water Swimming Community
“I think I learned a lot from them in terms of just being able to be calm and really just enjoy it. I think in general, the community of open water and the people we have are really relaxed…good people, you know, like respect each other. You know, the first thing we do after every race is just, you know, dap each other up no matter how far, like hard we fought, how much we hit each other, you know?
It’s amazing. There’s no pace clock. There’s no expectation. Like it’s just such a different feel and vibe … everybody within the swimming world is incredible. We’re humble. We’re the best people in the world, but open water. I think particularly. It’s just like a different energy and vibe.”
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