Editor’s note: A version of this story appears in the April edition of Preston Hollow People.
What do you do if you’re an athlete at a school with no sports? If you’re Rebecca Brandt, you compete for a school you’ve never attended.
There’s nothing shady about that tactic for the Preston Hollow resident, who is a freshman at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Brandt attends the Dallas ISD arts-magnet school because of her passion for playing the violin. Yet she’s also been a competitive swimmer for many years, and had to find another pool in which to pursue her passion.
So Brandt began competing with the swimming team at Hillcrest, the school nearest to her house. And she made a splash almost immediately, reaching the finals in both the 100-yard butterfly and 200 individual medley at the UIL Class 4A meet in February in Austin.
“Not many people in my school do sports, but people told me high school swimming was really fun,” Brandt said.
Brandt, 15, has been involved in both swimming and music since a very young age. She also tried gymnastics and soccer, but decided to take up swimming in part because of her older sister, Claire, a former Greenhill standout who is now a sophomore at Texas A&M.
She also followed Claire to the prestigious Dallas Mustangs select program, where Brandt is now one of the youngest members of the elite-level national team. She specializes in the butterfly, especially at middle distances, although her versatility also makes her a fit for the IM.
“She can pretty much swim any event, when she puts her mind to it and gets into race mode,” said Mustangs head coach Mook Rhodenbaugh. “She’s got the talent to take it as far as she wants.”
Brandt attended Greenhill through seventh grade before leaving to enroll in the DISD arts-magnet program. She said her new teammates at Hillcrest have been welcoming, even though the school doesn’t have a full-time coach and has never been a power in the sport.
At the state meet, Brandt finished fourth in the 100 butterfly, just 0.03 seconds off the podium. The meet came less than two weeks after the death of her father, Jay, who was a Mustangs board officer. She said swimming became an effective coping mechanism.
“I let him push me through the pool,” Brandt said. “I’m doing it for him.”