Even after years of swimming, Euless Trinity senior Riley Buhrow admits he is still learning.
For example, he thinks carefully about what to eat and drink before practice — because practice isn’t always routine.
“Drowning in homework from the [International Baccalaureate] program, a friend and I spent the night at my house. We stayed up all night doing homework, and it wasn’t born of procrastination, it truly was just that much homework in one night,” Buhrow recalled. “In our brilliance, on our way to practice that morning we decided we desperately needed burgers. We filled up and headed over to practice feeling the way only a lack of sleep, two Red Bulls and a burger combined can make you feel.
“Upon arrival, we learned our warmup would be something we had never done before, corkscrew drill. This is essentially flipping yourself from belly to back, and back to belly, over and over. A nightmare for someone who just ate Whataburger. It all seems like a strange surreal dream at this point.”
That is just one of many memorable moments for Buhrow, who is leaving his mark on the Trinity swim program. His success includes being named Newcomer of the Year and winning the Brick Award (for work ethic), a gold medal and a bronze medal from district competition and becoming a regional qualifier as a freshman. In his sophomore year he captured two silvers, made semifinals at regionals and was named team MVP. And last year as a junior, he took a gold and silver at district and was again named team MVP, as well as breaking the school record in the 200-yard individual medley.
As his coach and teacher, as with most of his elders, we simply help build the banks of the river in an attempt to guide the raging torrent that is Riley Buhrow.”
- Trinity swimming coach Richard Campanaro
He has also been team captain since the end of his sophomore year.
“In the truest sense of the term, he’s outstanding,” Trinity swim coach Richard Campanaro said. “I think one thing that stands out the most about him is that he doesn’t wait for direction. He knows what he wants to do and he isn’t going to wait around for you to tell him how to go about getting there.
“As his coach and teacher, as with most of his elders, we simply help build the banks of the river in an attempt to guide the raging torrent that is Riley Buhrow.”
Buhrow has been swimming competitively for five straight years and roughly eight nonconsecutively. He started in elementary school but quit for a while after fifth grade.
“Quitting so young is a huge regret I have, because you just know that without that gap between fifth and eighth grade I would’ve been much, much more successful,” he said.
He joined Mid-Cities Arlington Swimming (MARS) in elementary school, largely because they operated out of the same pool at Trinity (now closed) that he was already practicing in. He swam for them up until a few weeks ago.
“They have shaped a lot of who I am now, and the only reason I swim with Trinity now is because of that day the instructor pointed us to them after swim lessons,” Buhrow said. “I rejoined them again in eighth grade; they’re a very intense team that has excellent coaches, but is also my family. Please excuse my bragging on them.”
Buhrow had major success with MARS. He competed in Senior Zones with MARS the summer following his sophomore year. He also attended the Pro-Am Classic as freshman, sophomore and junior.
However, his dedication to the IB program cut into his attendance with the program. He recently gave up his position on the MARS national team.
“I was holding a slot that another swimmer could better benefit by,” he said. “I continue to be good friends with my teammates over there, and they will always be family.”
Buhrow also took a job over the summer, which kept him from being in the pool as much as previous summers. However, he said he and Campanaro have developed a strategy for a successful senior season, shifting his focus to shorter sprint events such as the 50-yard and 100 freestyle in contrast to the 200 IM.
“Lots of people have this misconception that swimming is won during the race. Races are actually won months prior to the event, in the hours you put into the pool,” Buhrow said. “With the training we are putting in during practice right now, I am confident there will be success in our championship meets this January and February.”
Buhrow tried other sports, including football. However, he said he never felt as comfortable as when he is in the water.
“There’s something about a grace of movement you never forget as a swimmer,” he said. “Your lungs and conditioning, that’s another story. After three days off it feels as though your cardiovascular system has been slacking for years.
“But the grace of movement and technique that marks a competitive swimmer stays with us for life and it isn’t easily acquired, so I think my fate was set once I joined MARS back in third grade.”
He is the first competitive swimmer from his family. However, he believes his grandmother may have participated in synchronized swimming, something he said he could never see himself doing.
“Although we are all aquatic, I could no more do synchronized swimming than a sprinter could do gymnastics, and vice versa,” he said.
He was also once in band, which provides another story involving hamburgers from his freshman year.
“I have had a voracious appetite since the age of 11 and swimming compounds it, and I remember one particular evening after a MARS practice my dad was driving me to a football game where I was in the pep band,” he recalled. “I was starving to death. Short on time but not appetite, after eating three of the hamburgers, I shoved the fourth down the bell of my saxophone so I could snack during the pep band performance.
“Honestly, this is the best illustration of a swimmer’s appetite I can give. Those of us who were in band know how forbidden it is to hold food inside an instrument, though that saxophone also held everything shy of a full-size pizza.”
Buhrow plans to attend the University of Texas in Austin or Texas A&M University to study cellular biology and genetics.
“Riley is one of the most intrinsically motivated students I’ve worked with as an educator. He controls his destiny and he knows it, too,” Campanaro said.
Buhrow said he would love to swim in college, and may try to walk onto one of the programs or join an intramural club. However, he said his main focus is education.
“While I could compromise for a smaller school and swim there, perhaps on scholarship, I have decided I prefer to have my college of choice, and if swimming is meant, I shall do so,” he said. “I currently plan to join either a club or intramural, or simply make use of the recreational facilities available to me to keep in top condition. Whatever happens, one way or another I will be in the water.”