The Connelly swim star says she enjoys mentoring younger teammates

By Jenelyn Russo     8/21/2017

Fascinated by water from a young age, Brianna Hernandez began swimming competitively at the age of five.

“Once I started competitive swimming, it sparked something inside of me,” says Hernandez. “I love the rush you get from competing and diving in the water and finishing a race. I love the joy of everything that comes along with it.”



Hernandez now swims the 100-meter butterfly and 100-meter freestyle events for Cornelia Connelly High School, along with the individual medley relay and freestyle relay races, bringing out the team aspect of the sport that the senior enjoys the most.

“I love representing Connelly because of the camaraderie that we all have,” Hernandez. “Our school has a great community. Everybody there is really encouraging and we all push each other to do our best. I just love how we all work together.”

The 17-year-old team captain finds a particular joy in assisting her younger teammates, utilizing skills she learned from watching those ahead of her.

“I love working with the new swimmers…helping them by answering any questions and by reaching out to them at practice and during the meets,” says Hernandez. “We’re here to work together as a team. Just seeing our team grow from the start of the season to the end of the season is really encouraging.”

Connelly head swim coach, Ryne Spejcher, sees Hernandez’s depth of experience as a crucial part of her contributions as captain.

“Bri is probably our most naturally talented and experienced swimmer,” says Spejcher, “…and that helps to have people look at her when they need help with skills. She leads by example and always gets the workouts done with the most effort possible.”

With as mentally challenging as competitive swimming can be, Hernandez has come upon points in time where she’s wanted to walk away from the sport. But she’s persevered, along with the help of her parents, and her commitment has reaped some lifelong rewards.

“It’s really rewarding to see your improvement and how swimming has helped you grow,” says Hernandez. “It’s helped me grow, not only as a swimmer, but as a person outside of the pool.”

As a member of National Charity League, Hernandez has discovered her passion for service, and has channeled that into serving as Commission of Service at Connelly, both as a junior and a senior.

The Whittier resident also enjoys math and science and would like to combine those interests with her love for serving to pursue biomedical engineering, “something with an impact on the people and environment” around her.

The challenges she’s faced in swimming and in life wouldn’t be manageable without her constants of God and faith.

“Through prayer and through my faith,” says Hernandez, “…it’s helped me persevere and to stay stronger, and helps remind me that at the end of the day, it’s not winning that’s important. It’s having faith in God and doing your best.”