Wong queen of Corona del Mar pool

Brynne Wong did not come into the Corona del Mar High girls' swimming program last year as some wide-eyed freshman.

Wong said she had goals of making CIF and setting the school record in the 100-yard butterfly.

"That was kind of my goal the whole year, those two things," said Wong, who accomplished both goals. "I wanted to leave my name on the [record] board here."

Fast forward a year and Wong is still blazing fast. She now has two individual school records after the Pacific Coast League finals May 6. Wong broke her own record in the 100 fly (56.19 seconds) and also Ashley Chandler's 2006 mark in the 50 free, setting the new mark at 24.18. She was also a part of the 200 free relay team (also including Tori Gabert, Ally McCormick and Hollace Barden) that touched first in 1 minute, 38.98 seconds, yet another school record.

The only other female featured so prominently on that record board just happens to be Wong's high school co-coach, Stephanie Gabert. She didn't swim the same events, but both are products of Irvine-based AquaZot Swim Club.

"I'm so proud of Brynne," said Gabert, who owns the CdM records in the 200 free, breaststroke, individual medley and was on the record-setting medley relay and 400 free relay teams. "I know she works really hard. She doesn't train with us, but I know her really well as a swimmer because I did swim over at A-Zot. She's a really hard worker. She has such heart for swimming, and I just love that about her. If she wants something, she'll go out and get it."

Wong, who qualified second, wants a first-place butterfly finish at the CIF Southern Section Division I finals Friday at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach. It would be even better if she could lower her personal-best time of 56.11 seconds. She's also slated to swim in the consolation final of the 50 freestyle.

Wong has high expectations for herself, understandable as she's been swimming for the AquaZots since she was 5 years old. Brynne said she and her older sister Natalie, a junior on the CdM swim team, started off at a young age since her uncles on her mother's side of the family were all swimmers.

"They wanted to get us to try it, and then we just wanted to keep going," Brynne Wong said.

One of the uncles is former Newport Harbor High and UC Santa Barbara aquatics standout John Dobrott. Dobrott led Bill Barnett's undefeated 1975 Sailors water polo team to the CIF Southern Section 4-A title. His senior year at UC Santa Barbara he also led the Gauchos to their only NCAA men's water polo title. That 1979 team, interestingly, also featured former CdM girls' water polo coach Aaron Chaney.

Dobrott was an accomplished distance freestyler in high school, and among the sisters Natalie usually handles those events more so than Brynne. But Brynne undoubtedly is accomplishing big things.

She showed it at league finals. After winning the 50 free by nearly four-tenths of a second – a fairly substantial margin in the 50 free – she came back to lower her own record in the 100 fly.

"I remember last year at the beginning of the season," Gabert said. "She was like, 'I want to get that 100 fly record.' And it was like, 'Yeah, you can totally get that. You're so close.' Like I said before, if she wants something she'll definitely go after it and get it. She's so motivated and has such heart and dedication, and those are all the key elements to being a great athlete."

Wong's swims were part of a big meet overall by the CdM girls, who also had fellow sophomore Ally McCormick set the school record in the 100 free.

McCormick is a water polo player, like many of Wong's high school teammates. But the Sea Kings definitely make it work.

"I like it," Wong said. "You have girls like Ally, there's other girls too, but girls who you find out are really good at both. It's exciting to see. They're all really nice girls and I like getting to know them every year."

Wong also knows her main competition in Friday's 100 fly final. The first-place qualifier, Irvine freshman Emily Jiang, is Wong's club teammate on AquaZots.

That doesn't make Wong feel nervous. She lives for the big swims.

"The pressure, for me, it's pretty good," she said. "I think a lot of times it makes me want to go faster. I feel like I swim well under pressure, reaching for a goal."

Until she graduates, the record board definitely isn't safe.


Brynne Wong

Born: Aug. 14, 1995

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 5-foot-7

Sport: Swimming

Coaches: Barry O'Dea and Stephanie Gabert

Favorite food: Steak

Favorite movie: "The Proposal"

Favorite athletic moment: Swimming at Junior Nationals last summer at Irvine's Woollett Aquatics Center.

Week in review: She won the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly events at Pacific Coast League finals on May 6 at Beckman High, setting CdM school records in each. She was also part of the record-setting 200 free relay team.

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