Former St. Augustine Prep swimmer Brendan McHugh set the U.S. Open record in the 50-meter breaststroke Friday, though he's relatively new to the sprint event.
McHugh swam the 50 breaststroke in 27.10 seconds in a preliminary race at the U.S. National Championships in Irvine, Calif. He accomplished the feat in the second-to-last preliminary heat in the event. A U.S. Open record indicates the fastest swim in the event ever on American soil. Kevin Steel set the previous mark of 27.26 at last year's meet.
McHugh, 24, a resident of the Sicklerville section of Winslow Township, proved his record performance was no fluke by returning to win the 50 breaststroke final in 27.24.
"It's pretty cool to break the record, and it justifies all the swimming I've been doing since I graduated from Penn," McHugh said Saturday. "Breaking the record and winning the event feel equally good. I kept on swimming after college, and my times are better now."
McHugh, who represented the Greater Philadelphia Aquatic Club at the meet, swam for four years at the University of Pennsylvania before graduating in 2012, and he only has gotten better at his sport since then. He's in law school at Washington & Lee University (Va.).
At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, McHugh is bigger than most swimmers.
"I only did the 50 breaststroke one other time, in Charlotte (N.C.)," McHugh said. "I got a 28.2, but I wasn't shaved or tapered. I think my size and strength adds to my ability in the 50 breaststroke. You just turn it over as fast as you can."
At St. Augustine, McHugh won the 100-yard breaststroke at the state Meet of Champions from 2006-2008. His time of 57.88 at the MOC was his personal best. He was The Press Boys Co-Swimmer of the Year as a senior in 2008 along with teammate Blake Trabuchi-Downey.
McHugh set school records (in yards) at Penn in 2012 in the 200 freestyle (1:37.31), 200 breaststroke (1:55.82), and 100 breaststroke (53.03). He also was part of the Penn 400 freestyle relay team, which set a school mark of 2:59.13.
McHugh was also selected Academic All Ivy in 2011 and 2012.