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Athlete of the Week: Five-time record-setter Arielle Brotman makes fast impression on La Jolla High swimming

La Jolla High School sophomore Arielle Brotman already holds five school swimming records.
(Courtesy of Arielle Brotman)

In the past month and a half, La Jolla High School sophomore Arielle Brotman broke four school records in individual swimming events. Add that to the school record she already held and the 16-year-old is well on her way to holding all eight of the individual swimming records La Jolla High keeps.

“I think it is totally realistic that she could hold them all by the time she graduates,” said her coach, Tom Atwell.

At the City Conference tournament in late April, Arielle broke the school record for the 100-meter butterfly stroke. The first week of May, she broke the school records for the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle at the CIF San Diego Section championships. In mid-May, she broke the school record for the 200-meter individual medley at the state regional tournament. She already held the record for the 100-meter breaststroke.

“I’m super proud of myself; it feels fulfilling,” Arielle told the La Jolla Light. “It makes all the hard work worth it.”

A list of La Jolla High School's current swimming and diving records includes five held by Arielle Brotman.
(Courtesy of Tom Atwell)

Arielle, a swimmer since early childhood at local YMCAs, said she trains every day to improve her speed and technique. That includes nearly three hours of swimming and land-based exercises five afternoons a week and three mornings a week of extra swim practice.

“When I first started swimming, I just liked being in the water and hanging out with my friends. As I got faster, it got more and more exciting,” she said. “I would do a race and be faster than the year before.”

Her strategy during practice is to “see everything as a race” and focus on what she can improve.

“I try to think of my stroke and keeping it smooth and technically good,” she said. “When I’m in a race, it’s easy for me to forget everything else and focus on what I need to focus on.”

Arielle Brotman is pictured in 2021 during a swim meet in which she broke the LJHS record for the 100-meter breaststroke.
La Jolla High School’s Arielle Brotman is pictured in April 2021 during a swim meet in which she broke the school record for the 100-meter breaststroke.
(Nicola Bugelli)

Arielle said her goal is to “keep going and get faster every year, a little or a lot.”

“It is really uncommon for her to be this good at this age,” Atwell said. “I don’t think we’ve had a swimmer of her caliber at La Jolla High School maybe ever, certainly not during my career. Her swimming ability is absolutely amazing. She can swim any stroke and she’s unmatched for speed. And she hasn’t come into her strength yet. As she continues to grow, she is going to get stronger. As a young kid, it’s amazing to see her at this level.”

Atwell said he also appreciates Arielle’s support of her teammates and said she is “generous with her knowledge” of technique.

“She would never assume she knows how to do something better, but if someone asks her, she is always willing to help,” Atwell said. “It’s kind of fun to watch because she is the most unassuming, humble and sweet kid. But when she climbs on the [starting] block, there is confidence. I would not want to be on the block next to her.”

Arielle said her advice for up-and-comers is to “work hard and work well. Be focused when you are working and enjoy it while you can.”

La Jolla Athlete of the Week features athletes from all sports in high school (La Jolla High, The Bishop’s School, La Jolla Country Day School) and other local youth sports. We’re looking not only for the stars of competition but also for student-athletes who set an example for teamwork, academic achievement and/or community involvement. Please email your nominations, and a way to reach your nominees, to Editor Rob Vardon at robert.vardon@lajollalight.com.