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Normandy senior finishes career with 15 school records, best finish ever at state meet

NHS senior Brandon Stoia March 9, 2020

 

A lot people get asked‭, ‬maybe in a job interview‭, ‬“Where do you see yourself in ten years‭?‬”

Ten years ago‭, ‬a Romanian great uncle visiting the United States asked Brandon Stoia and his brother Dylan if they were‭ ‬interested in taking swimming lessons at the YMCA‭. ‬As an incentive‭, ‬the great uncle would agree to adopt a dog‭, ‬if the boys agreed to take the lessons‭.‬

The boys agreed‭.  ‬Swimming and the dog‭ ‬“Lucky”‭ ‬were forever introduced into the boys’‭ ‬lives‭.‬

Just ten years later‭, ‬in late February 2020‭, ‬older brother Brandon was competing at the Ohio State Swim Meet‭ - ‬recognized as maybe the best swimmer in the 50-plus year history of Normandy High School‭.‬

The journey to the State Meet for Stoia was one filled with lots of hard work‭, ‬both physical and mental‭. ‬After taking his initial lessons at the YMCA‭, ‬Stoia joined the Ridgewood YMCA Dolphins club team‭. ‬As his passion for the sport grew‭, ‬so did the practicing‭, ‬long hours‭, ‬training and physical grind‭. ‬

“Swimming is a sport where you can’t take off‭,‬”‭ ‬Stoia explained‭. ‬“If you take off‭, ‬you don’t have any more endurance for the next season‭. ‬My coaches really wanted to make‭ (‬YMCA‭) ‬Nationals‭. ‬They were always pushing for me to stop going to Romania and start swimming over the summer and taking it seriously‭.‬”

Going into his high school junior year‭, ‬Stoia agreed to stay at home and train‭. ‬That year at Nationals‭, ‬he had a top-8‭ ‬finish in‭ ‬his first Long Course national tournament‭. ‬The finish motivated him to take training and competition to another level‭, ‬with a goal of a top finish at the Ohio State Meet‭.‬

Brandon’s training schedule included six days a week‭, ‬sometimes up to five hours in the pool‭, ‬at a time‭. ‬And with Ridgewood Dolphins and‭ ‬the Normandy team‭, ‬the schedule never really let up for Stoia during the year‭. ‬

“There is a great deal of preparation that must occur before the high school season starts‭,‬”‭ ‬Normandy swimming coach Chris Thomas explained‭. ‬“This includes coming into the season in very good shape‭.  ‬To get to be at Brandon’s level‭, ‬you need to have that mentality of discipline‭, ‬determination‭, ‬motivation‭, ‬and work-ethic‭.‬”

The list of accomplishments Stoia has earned from that preparation is extensive‭.‬

A four-time letter winner in swimming‭, ‬Stoia was captain of the team this season‭, ‬his senior year‭. ‬He owns 15‭ ‬of 16‭ ‬school records at Normandy‭, ‬except for the 100‭ ‬yard backstroke which was set last season by Eric Norman‭.‬

He has been the Great Lakes Conference MVP for the last three seasons‭. ‬This season‭, ‬he was unanimous MVP choice by the coaches in the league‭. ‬

For the last two seasons‭, ‬Stoia has qualified for the State Meet and earned an All-Ohio recognition‭ - ‬one of the top 16‭ ‬times in‭ ‬Division I‭. ‬Last season‭, ‬he finished 13th in the 200‭ ‬individual medley‭. ‬

This season‭, ‬he finished 9th in the state in the 200‭ ‬freestyle and 10th in the 100‭ ‬breaststroke‭. ‬Normandy senior Erica Ebel also‭ ‬finished 16th in diving for the Invaders‭.‬

The 9th place finish in the 200‭ ‬yard freestyle was the highest finish ever for a Normandy swimmer in Columbus‭. ‬To accomplish this‭, ‬Stoia swam the fifth fastest time in the state this year in Division I‭. ‬He only began swimming the 200‭ ‬yard freestyle in December of 2019‭.‬

“When you watch him swim‭, ‬he is a‭ ‬‘silent assassin’‭,‬”‭  ‬Thomas added‭. ‬“He is a human hover craft‭, ‬and if I was competing against him as a high school student‭, ‬I would be scared‭.‬”

For Stoia‭, ‬the team only succeeds if everyone is putting in maximum effort‭, ‬and this year’s team had great results‭.‬

“The work ethic of this team has changed completely‭,‬”‭ ‬Stoia said‭. ‬“Everyone has been pushing themselves to get better‭, ‬and there was this whole team dynamic on working hard at practice‭. ‬It really‭ ‬paid off this year because Normandy brought three relay teams to districts‭, ‬which is like absolutely insane‭. ‬It gives the team‭ ‬a lot of hope for the future‭, ‬because they didn’t think they could do it‭.‬”

Stoia continues to work hard in and out of the pool at Normandy‭. ‬Enrolled in six‭, ‬tough Advanced Placement classes‭, ‬he is still‭ ‬undecided of his college choice‭. ‬However‭, ‬he is looking at Ohio State University‭, ‬Miami University‭, ‬University of Cincinnati and‭ ‬Cornell University with possible consideration of swimming at the next level‭. ‬He intends to study political science with a minor in psychology‭, ‬in hopes of becoming an attorney one day‭. ‬

“It’s just really crazy to see how far swimming has taken me‭,‬”‭ ‬Stoia added‭.‬

“I am really proud of Brandon for many things‭, ‬his accomplishments speak for themselves‭,‬”‭ ‬Thomas expressed‭. ‬“I am the most proud of the person he has become over these last four years‭. ‬He is a great leader‭, ‬a very driven individual‭, ‬a fantastic and motivated student‭, ‬and I know for a fact that he will be great in whatever career path he chooses‭.  ‬Regardless of the obstacles in the path of achievement‭, ‬he will find a way to get things done‭.‬”

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Normandy senior Brandon Stoia had an outstanding season for the Invaders in the pool. The senior captain owns 15 of 16 school records and finished 9th in the state in the 200 freestyle.