South Kitsap's Brandon Dravis ready to move on after 4A swim & dive championships

South Kitsap swimmer Brandon Dravis, who’s alread working toward his pilot’s license, will attend UW next year on an ROTC scholarship. - File photo
South Kitsap swimmer Brandon Dravis, who’s alread working toward his pilot’s license, will attend UW next year on an ROTC scholarship.
— image credit: File photo

There are no shortages of clichés used to describe high-school seniors.

But Brandon Dravis has no use for discussions about lifestyle changes.

He understands that the Class 4A state swim and dive championships today and Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way will be his final opportunity to compete in the sport.

And he is OK with that.

Dravis already has been accepted at the University of Washington on a ROTC scholarship. He hopes to earn an aeronautical-engineering degree and work at Boeing or the NASA.

The catalyst for that decision came two years ago when Dravis began flying private planes out of Bremerton National Airport. He said he is working toward his private pilot license and has 70 hours of airtime.

“I’m going back to flying as soon as the season is over,” said Dravis, who pilots a four-seat Cessna 172 aircraft.

He said one of his friends had a plane at the airport and asked to come fly with it. Dravis received permission from his friend’s parent.

“It was the most amazing experience,” he said. “At that moment, I knew I wanted to fly.”

Dravis joked that his interests are basically anything not on land.

“I’m air and water,” he said. “Maybe I’ll start driving seaplanes.”

The water portion begins with his mother, Janet Carmona, drove him to the pool seven years ago with the idea of getting him involved in a sport. Dravis said he initially was skeptical and his mother hardly used a hard-sell approach: like it and continue, or simply find another activity.

The result was his joining the Puget Sound Swim Club. Similar to many swimmers at South, Dravis specializes in his sport.

“The state kids all are club swimmers,” he said. “It’s a hard sport to jump into and become really good at.”

Success rarely has been an issue for Dravis. This will be the fourth consecutive year he has reached state. Perhaps his biggest challenge came as a sophomore when he gave up his preferred 200-yard individual medley in favor of the 100 freestyle after being diagnosed with tendonitis in his biceps.

“That was a rough year,” said Dravis, who returned to the 200 individual medley after altering his stroke. “I have done physical therapy and it’s become better.”

Not just the shoulder, but his performance as well.

Dravis competed on South’s 400 freestyle relay team that placed fifth at state in 3 minutes, 16.89 seconds last year. That broke the school record of 3:17.68, set in 1986.

It was the second time of the weekend that the Wolves finished fifth in a relay. South’s team of Dravis, Justin Slezak, Danny DeRego and Rousell stroked to a 1:40.32 finish in the 200 medley relay. Kamiak won that event in 1:38.56.

The Wolves broke the school record (1:41.43) that was set at districts. Before that, South’s best time was 1:42.52, in 1987.

“It’s kind of unreal, this whole experience,” Dravis said at the time.

He also placed fourth in the 200 individual medley (1:58.4) and sixth in the 100 backstroke (54.77). He set the school record in the latter event in 54.64 last year.

Dravis’ times are not quite as strong this season and coach Tami Lester-Dame said that might be the result of burnout after swimming for so many years. Regardless, she expects Dravis to qualify for the finals in both individual events and possibly place high.

“He might surprise us,” she said. “He’s a fierce competitor.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Dravis in at least duplicating those times is his health. He struggled through a cold at districts.

“I hate feeling sick in the first place,” he said. “Then knowing that it’s the state championships and my final meet is tough. But I still have to go for it.”

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