Written By: Tom Higdon
Clare Brinkman was the fourth sibling in her family to begin a collegiate swimming career. In her hunt for a new pool to call home she found the perfect fit in Coast Guard Swim and Dive. As a first year cadet Brinkman was met with a team built on mutual respect. Every member of the team, regardless of speed in the pool or years with the program, respected each other as equals. All the seniors on her first year team were welcoming and helped her lay the first stones on her path to becoming a leader of the program in her final year.
Upon beginning her time at the academy Brinkman was quickly brought out of her shell. “One thing you learn really quickly is you gotta speak up and be loud sometimes”.
She took to the challenge that the academy presented to her in stride though, and by the end of her four years with Coast Guard was a captain for the program. Brinkman took great inspiration from the welcoming leaders that she had swam with in her first years and focused heavily on the personability of her leadership. As a captain she was put into a position where she could have a direct influence over the decision making processes for the team, an opportunity she took full advantage of.
One thing remained constant as Brinkman cultivated her leadership ability that every swimmer knows all too well, practice is going to be rough. Because of this ever present challenge that swimmers face before diving into the pool for a two hour session, Brinkman felt that it was important to build relationships. The bonds that Brinkman shared with her teammates created a culture of ownership which she believes was one of the biggest contributors to the team’s performance. When she had finally reached the role of captain she reinforced those relationships whenever possible.
Now in the final weeks of her stay at the academy Brinkman feels that she has developed a toolset that can be utilized to its fullest extent in her future military career. The work ethic needed to find success in the pool is just as critical in the service. Brinkman is fully aware of just how far she can push herself to achieve her goals. Through her time at Coast Guard Swim and Dive She has fully realized how critical maintaining a relationship with those that you lead is. She has cast away the shell she once lived in and fully stepped into her role as a leader for the United States Coast Guard.
Brinkman will be leaving for Pensacola shortly after graduation where she will begin flight school. As for swimming she knows that you can take the swimmer out of the pool but not much can be done to keep them from coming back. She hopes to compete in masters swimming whenever she is able. Best of all though she will leave Coast Guard Swim and Dive with lifelong friendships and a deep well of leadership tools.
Clare Brinkman attended High School in Michigan at St. Catherine of Siena Academy, where she ran cross country all four years. She swam for USA club teams during this time as well. She began swimming at six years old and was honored to finish her swimming career at the Academy.