Brighton senior – Swimming & Diving
Seaman already will graduate next spring as one of the top swimmers in Brighton history. As a sophomore two seasons ago, she became just the second from her school to win an MHSAA championship in the sport, finishing first in the 100-yard freestyle at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final. Last week she helped the Bulldogs make more history, as they beat reigning LP Division 2 champ Dexter for the first time in 22 years, 98-88. Seaman won the 100 freestyle (51.62) and swam on winning 200 medley (1:51.97) and 200 freestyle (1:40.46) relays to earn the Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
Brighton currently is ranked No. 9 in LP Division 1, while Dexter is No. 1 in LP Division 2. Seaman holds school records in the 50 freestyle (23.68 seconds), 100 free (51.59), 200 free (1:55.19), 200 individual medley (2:10.93) and 100 butterfly (58.91.) Her championship in 2014 was the Bulldogs' first at a Finals since Morgan Zebley won the 100 butterfly in 2010, and it helped them to a fourth-place team finish. Seaman finished second in the 100 to Ann Arbor Skyline’s Katie Portz at last season’s LP Division 1 Final, while also repeating her fourth place in the 200 freestyle and swimming on two top-four relays as Brighton finished fifth as a team.
A top-25 student academically in a class of more than 500, Seaman carries a 4.06 grade-point average and has taken college visits to Brown and Cornell and today began a visit at Ohio State. She’s interested in studying psychology while continuing her swim career at the next level. But first she’ll be a likely favorite in at least one race at this season’s Finals, Nov. 18-19 at Oakland University, with an opportunity to add to the accolades that have led Brighton to hang a poster of her alongside one of Zebley in their pool.
Coach Jason Black said: “Taylor is the type of athlete that not only brings her ‘A’ game to the swim meets but also to each practice. She attacks each set with an intensity knowing that the workout is going to make her faster at the end of the season. Taylor has helped transform Brighton swimming from a regional player to a state player as we have been a top-10 program the last two years with our eyes on a third year in a row with Taylor leading the way. She recently broke her own school record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.68 and is swimming faster in the middle of the season than she ever has. Her work ethic and her drive help lead the team to ever bigger goals. It is going to be hard without Taylor next year, but her swimming has inspired the younger swimmers to be better – and I believe our team will still be reaching for higher goals after she graduates because of how Taylor has led by example.”
Performance Point: “Every year since I was a freshman, and obviously many years before that, it’s been really disappointing to lose to (Dexter),” Seaman said. “We always try our best, but it never seemed to work out, obviously. It would just ruin our week. Last week was just awesome. Jason (Black) told us we had a chance to beat them for the first time in 22 years. We were really motivated to do that. We knew they had lost a couple of good swimmers, and we knew we still had most of our state team from last year and had a few good girls come in as freshmen. I kinda cried when the score was announced at the end."
Pushing ahead: “I feel pretty good about my season at the moment. I, along with other people on the team, we’ve all been going faster right now than what we were doing last year at this time. I would obviously like to go for my best times, and if I could win (at the MHSAA Finals) again, that would be absolutely amazing. I know it will be tough competition; last year it was Katie Portz, but she graduated. I’m actually pretty good friends with her; we used to swim together in the offseason. Having great competition is good because they can push me, and especially when they are friends.”
Leaving a legacy: “I just remember when I was 8, swimming for Brighton Eels, I would see the Morgan Zebley picture on the wall being like, I want to be like her. Now, seeing my poster on the wall, people ask me all the time, ‘Is that you?’ It’s cool that poster will be up there for the next many years. … It’s interesting to see every day at practice. We’ve adjusted to it being there. At first (my teammates) would be like, ‘It’s you, watching yourself swim every day.’”
Going for gold: “I really look up to all of the Olympic swimmers, and how dedicated they are. Missy Franklin, I just love her positive attitude. She didn’t do great at the Olympics this year, but she still had an amazing attitude about it. Allison Schmitt (from Canton) used to swim for my same club team, and I actually broke one of her records – so obviously I want to be like her. She’s amazing.”
Mind on the future: “I would like to do something with psychology. I’m leaning toward the sociological aspects of psychology. I find that very fascinating. I love finding out why we as people do what we do, why we act certain ways in certain situations. Why, when there are multiple doors available, we all funnel into one door. I want to learn why we do that.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2016-17 honorees:
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Brighton's Taylor Seaman launches from the starting blocks. (Middle) Seaman will be competing this season to add to her 2014 MHSAA title. (Photos courtesy of the Seaman family.)
WEST BLOOMFIELD — When she started high school swimming last fall, West Bloomfield sophomore Elizabeth Eichbrecht didn’t know what expectations to have, given she knew full well the high level of competition there was throughout the state.
Well, after two seasons, it’s safe to say Eichbrecht has blown any expectations she had out of the water, pun intended.
At the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals on Nov. 17-18 at Eastern Michigan University, Eichbrecht won her third and fourth individual championships.
She won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:48.08, more than three seconds ahead of the next finisher. The winning time qualified for All-America recognition and bested her first-place time from the 2022 Finals by 0.34 seconds.
Later on, Eichbrecht won the 500 freestyle in a time of 4:47.66, more than 11 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Her All-American time in that event was more than five seconds better than her winning time in 2022.
Two years, four Finals titles. Not too shabby.
“Yes it’s surprising, because there are so many fast girls and we are all very competitive,” Eichbrecht said.
Eichbrecht already holds six school records – in all four freestyle events, the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly.
She also owns Oakland Activities Association records in the 200 and 500 freestyles and the 100 butterfly.
“I like the distance events more, mainly because I don’t have to all-out sprint,” Eichbrecht said.
West Bloomfield head coach Ronson Webster said the big reason why Eichbrecht was even better this year as a sophomore after making such an impact as a freshman wasn’t necessarily because she was bigger and stronger, although those were contributing factors.
Mainly, her success this year was the validation that she belonged after such a great freshman season.
“She gained more confidence this year going into her races,” he said. “She focused on racing her race and not who was next to her. Meeting the time we worked for was the goal. Winning is a bonus.”
While Eichbrecht excels at so many events, her specialty has been the 200 and 500 freestyles, which is stating the obvious given the Finals titles she has won in those events.
“Her training is very specific as it is for every swimmer on our team,” Webster said. “Everyone is trained differently. Her technique is very important and specific to her event and body size. Since she is shorter, she can’t swim the same as a tall person. Having the right technique designed for the swimmer and the correct race plan goes a long way.”
Eichbrecht next will focus on her club season for Supernova Swim Team based out of Farmington Hills, and she already is looking forward to competing at the Winter Junior Nationals in Columbus from Dec. 6-9.
By the time her career is over, it’s safe to say Eichbrecht might be the best all-time from a West Bloomfield school that’s not known as much for swimming as other Oakland County powers such as Farmington Hills Mercy or the Birmingham schools. But Eichbrecht is relishing putting her school on the swimming map with all her success so far.
“I love swimming at WB,” she said. “My teammates are amazing, and they work super hard. I’m super proud of all the work they put in this season, and I can’t wait for next season.”
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTOS (Top) West Bloomfield’s Elizabeth Eichbrecht swims the winning 200-yard freestyle Nov. 18 at Eastern Michigan University. (Middle) Eichbrecht talks with runner-up Yan Yee Adler from Ann Arbor Pioneer after also winning the 500 freestyle. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)