SPRINGDALE -- Kevin Brumfield is a quiet, unassuming freshman who probably doesn't garner much attention when he's walking the halls at George Junior High in Springdale.
But put him in the pool with high school swimmers and Brumfield excels, usually against older and larger athletes.
"You'd never look at him and think he could be the best swimmer in the state of Arkansas by the time he's a senior," Springdale High coach Matthew Hervey said. "He's 5-foot-7 and, maybe, 150 pounds wet. But he's an incredible swimmer."
Brumfield was among the dozens of swimmers who competed Thursday at the Class 6A-West Conference meet at the Jones Center. Brumfield took the early lead and finished second (1:58.37) in the 200-Intermediate behind Ryan Husband (1:56.48), a senior from Bentonville who will swim in college at Auburn.
"When you lose to a guy going to Auburn, there's no shame in that," Hervey said. "Kevin had an outstanding race and dropped, probably, four seconds off his best time. I can not be more proud of him."
Brumfeld said he was encouraged by his performance in his best event and the race result boosts his confidence for the state meet, where he's already qualified in four events. That meet will be held in two weeks at the Community Center in Bentonville.
"It felt like I was having a good race in the water," Brumfield said. "Placing second is encouraging because I'm already close to (Husband) and I've still got three years to go in high school."
Bentonville won both the boys and girls conference championships on Thursday. Bentonville finished ahead of Fayetteville, Bentonville West, Springdale High, Har-Ber, Rogers High, and Rogers Heritage in the boys division. The Lady Tigers took first, followed by Bentonville West, Fayetteville, Springdale High, Har-Ber, Rogers, and Rogers Heritage.
Brumfield is a smaller version of his older brother, Eric, a former baseball and football player who had to give up football at Springdale after suffering three concussions. Brumfield said his relatively small stature compared to other swimmers helps to motivate him before he enters the pool.
"I see guys way bigger than me and that motivates me to beat them, definitely" Brumfield said.
Brumfield and his brother began swimming with the Sea Lions, a summer league team coached by Hervey. He then began swimming with the AquaHawgs, another summer swim program, before competing with the junior high and senior high teams at Springdale.
Springdale High got off to a good start on Tuesday when Addison Trunick won the girls conference diving championship at Bentonville.
"Addison is the best diver in the state, in my opinion," Hervey said. "She's a fantastic kid and former gymnast who just took this on three or four years ago. She took off, starting as a freshman and now into her senior year."
Bentonville High is still a dominant program in high school swimming in Arkansas, but Springdale has closed the gap since Hervey began with seven swimmers 10 years ago. That number has grown to 47 and Hervey said Brumfield can become the face of the program, if he's not already.
"We've made up a lot of ground with our swimmers, but Bentonville is still Bentonville," Hervey said. "Kevin's best event is the 200-IM. He's a great swimmer but he does his best work under water. He's like Aqua Man when he turns and hits those walls. When you see him do that, it's super impressive."
Bentonville senior Ryan Husband medals first in the boys 200 yard individual medley with Springdale's Kevin Brumfield (left) placing second and Fayetteville's Jackson Woodard (right) placing third, Thursday, February 13, 2020 during the 6A-West Conference swim meet at the Jones Center in Springdale. Check out nwaonline.com/200214Daily/ for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
6A-West Conference Swim/Dive
At Jones Center, Springdale
200 Medley Relay
500 Free Relay
400 Free Relay
200 Medley Relay
200 Free Relay
400 Free Relay
Preps Sports on 02/14/2020
Print Headline: Freshman Brumfield encouraged by strong showing at conference meet