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Athlete Worth Watching: Brenan Cassell

Aug 11, 2015 01:47PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Nelson Coffin

Brenan Cassell

Easton High School // Swimming, Baseball

Anyone who has even tried swimming’s most difficult and strenuous stroke knows what it means to perform the butterfly well. Coordination and athleticism certainly play a part in being adept in the “fly,” although there’s more to it than just having those twin attributes.

The bottom line is that what really makes a butterfly specialist successful is grinding through repetitive and rigorous workouts that leave most swimmers gasping for air by the time they finally touch the wall. Moreover, year-round club swimmers have a longer development period in which to refine their stroke and work on all-important conditioning.

That’s why Easton High’s Brenan Cassell defies logic when it comes to being such a swimming success story for the Warriors. 

Brenan is a seasonal swimmer only, perhaps because he’s already talented enough to hop in a pool and beat many of his competitors. Or because baseball is an even bigger part of his athletic life than swimming. Regardless, when he gets in water, he goes. Fast. And not just in the fly, either.

“In swimming, you have to have stroke technique,” says Easton swimming coach Kara Erskine. “We try here to give each swimmer individual attention, but Brenan is such a natural athlete. He just jumps in and picks up all the strokes.”

Erskine can only ponder what type of performer she would have if the junior started a year-round regimen. “Brenan asked me what would happen if he started swimming year round,” Erskine says with a laugh. “I said, ‘I don’t know, Brenan, but I think you’d be pretty fast.’”

In fact, his 58:57 in the 100-yard freestyle opened Erskine’s eyes.

“That’s pretty good for a guy that doesn’t swim year-round,” she says.

Brenan said his taste for the sport was developed by watching the Olympics, so he thought of giving it a try once he enrolled at Easton. “I’ve always had a pool growing up,” he says. “And I wanted to try something new and something fun. Trying something new isn’t such a bad thing.”

He says that once he learned the butterfly stroke technique, the conditioning gradually kicks in. “It takes all season to get in shape,” he says ruefully. “And then once you do, the season is over.”

Nevertheless, when swimming season ends, that’s the time Brenan becomes a valuable part of the Warriors’ baseball squad before turning to American Legion ball over the summer.

This season, Easton had an up-and-down campaign that came to a halt in the Class 2A East Section II final with a 5-2 loss to Queen Anne’s after the Warriors topped Kent Island, 7-1, in the opening game of the postseason. “Some days we play like the Orioles, and some days we play like a T-ball team,” Brenan says.
As a catcher, Brenan’s aptitude for cutting down would-be base stealers—he nabbed seven potential thieves in a row at one point this spring—tops the list of his duties on the diamond. “I finally started to get my footwork down,” says the oldest of four boys. 

Playing fall ball helped the 5-foot-10, 160-pound receiver’s mechanics behind the plate. “He’s a strong kid and an absolute leader for us,” says Easton baseball coach Albert Pritchett. “He’s got good feet and a good strong arm. And he’s a career .300 hitter—a good gap hitter.”

Brenan knows how to get it done in the classroom as well, earning a 3.8 grade point average and college credits in a dual enrollment program at Chesapeake College. His plan is to attend Salisbury University to become a social worker, like his parents. “I’m a quiet kid in class,” he says simply. “I try to get my work done.”

His mother, Cathy, says that Brenan is a huge help to his youngest sibling, Dylan. “Dylan is eight, and really looks up to Brenan,” she says. “At the age of 13, Brenan was fully versed in diabetes, and able to totally care for Dylan and give insulin by injection. He is a super kid.”

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