TAMPA, Fla – Nearly 14 years after falling in love with competitive swimming, Brian Valedon is setting personal best by carrying on a family tradition.
The 20-year-old junior is the latest in a long line of aquatic athletes from the parents, Pablo and Laura, and his two older sisters, Kelli-Ann and Alexis-Marie, competing for the Division I program at the University of Buffalo.
“It’s just literally been eat, sleep, breathe swimming in our house growing up,” Valedon said, during a practice at the University of Tampa last Friday. “I saw both my older sisters do it and I knew I had the same love for it so I was like, ‘Yeah, this is something I really want to do,’ and it worked out.”
Valedon’s sisters each competed for a total of four years for the University of Buffalo Bulls with both excelling in the backstroke and individual medley events.
Growing up in Brewster, New York, swimming was not the only sport Valedon excelled at, with football and basketball playing a major role in his childhood.
But when it came time to focus on the pool, Valedon decided to take what he learned on the field and on the court and apply it to his aquatic performance.
“I draw a lot of energy and inspiration from other sports and I try to put them into my swimming,” Valedon said. “Like the toughness of football, I try to apply that to swimming and just fight through the pain.
“And the quickness in basketball, I’m just try to working on my agility and then pulling it all together.”
Since transferring to the Spartans before the 2017-18 school year, the sports marketing and management student has left an instant impression on head coach Jimi Kiner.
“He brought just a lot of knowledge of the sport and has just this incredible work-ethic coming into a new team,” Kiner said.
While attending Indiana University in 2016-17, Valedon was a part of a talented Hoosiers team that won the NCAA’s Big Ten Championship. Now in his second year at Tampa, Valedon carries what he learned at IU with him every time he steps in the pool.
“Being at that level, it makes you appreciate what you’re doing every day in the pool because in the back of your mind you know there are guys who are doing it that much better at an even higher level.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story contained an error that has now been corrected. The Observer apologizes.