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Bradley aiming to be All-American

Northeast's Ted Bradley is the area's top swimmer in the 200 and 500 freestyle, winning district titles the past two years.

By JOHN SCHWARB

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2000


Ted Bradley carries his motivation with him in his training bag, right next to the swimsuits and goggles.

It is a swimming magazine, full of articles on training and advertisements for the latest equipment, but a closer look inside reveals the agate-sized type that really matters, the names and times of the country's best public high school swimmers.

Bradley, a senior at Northeast High and member of the St. Petersburg Aquatics team, has his sights firmly set on the top 10 of the list for 500 freestylers. A fast swim in Orlando in mid-November would be nice, too, but cracking the top 10 in the magazine -- in other words, becoming an All-American -- is a driving force these days.

"I have a shot," Bradley said. "I think that would be better than getting a first at state, individually. Not many people can say they've got All-American."

If All-America plaques were handed out merely on looks, Bradley would have a full mantel already.

The 17-year-old stands 6-foot-3 with 158 tightly-wound pounds of bone and muscle. Finding fat on his frame is about as easy as beating him.

Competitors might as well spend more time on the former, as few have had success at the latter. Bradley has owned the 200 and 500 free for more than two years, winning district titles in both events in 1998 and 1999. Last year, he held the county's fastest times in the two events.

So far this season, he has cruised along as usual in the 200 free, winning the event at last month's Pinellas County Athletic Conference championships.

In addition to contributing on winning 200 medley relay and 400 free relay teams at the meet (with teammates Brad Snyder, Clayton Halttunen and Jordan Raynovich), Bradley also nearly pulled off an upset over the county's best backstroker, Seminole's Chris Lang.

Coming into the PCAC meet, Bradley had only swam the 100 backstroke once in competition in 2000, but took another crack at it to help the Vikings earn valuable finals points.

"I'm not sure he wanted to do it at that meet," Northeast coach Bill Burrows said.

"(But) he told me he was going to break the conference record before he swam it."

And Bradley did just that, turning in a 52.79, only Lang bettered it by .02 to best the conference record he set earlier in the day.

Not many swimmers threaten records in events that are not their fortes, but Bradley continues to amaze, just as he did in 1996 when he qualified for the state meet as an eighth-grader at Admiral Farragut.

"He's an excellent swimmer, and he's gaining confidence all the time," Burrows said. "Distance-wise, he's probably one of the best in the state."

Bradley is now settling back into the 200 and 500 free, probably shelving the backstroke until college, when he may add the 200 backstroke to his repertoire.

In addition to the All-America status, Bradley also has his sights on a pair of school records, set by David McDaniel in the mid-1980s. McDaniel's top 200 free was a 1:39.20, and his 500 free clocked an impressive 4:30.29.

Bradley, by comparison, has had several times in the low 1:40s for his 200, and swam a 4:38.45 while finishing third at the 1999 state meet. Burrows said Bradley could own both marks by season's end if he stays healthy, and if he grabs those "he'll be in line for a state championship even if there are better kids there."

But for now, Bradley is content to soak up the atmosphere of his Northeast senior season. Club swimming is always just a little more serious and competitive, so the prep swimming scene is a welcome break. And if the accolades come, all the better.

"It's extremely good just to be on a high school team, especially when you're on top," Bradley said. "It's your last year and you've got to go out and have fun.

"I'm definitely enjoying it."

INTRODUCING: TED BRADLEY

FAVORITE HEALTHY SNACK: Bananas and peanut butter.

IN BETWEEN SWIMS I'M ... : Listening to my CD player.

ON THE CD PLAYER ... : I burn my own CD's, so I have a variety of things, mostly rock and alternative.

MOST ADMIRED OLYMPIC SWIMMER: Tom Dolan, he's the 400 IM record-holder and he had extensive knee surgery.

WORST PART OF SWIMMING: Being tired a lot and being really sore.

BEST PART OF SWIMMING: Going fast in meets.

FAVORITE PLACES TO SWIM: Orlando, Gainesville.

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