West Side Academy student Brian Williams had an untraditional start to his now successful swimming career.  

When he was around 5, he almost drowned. It happened again soon afterward while he was at a hotel for a family reunion. 

Williams realized then that he needed to learn how to swim.

"My dad was laughing because he thought I was playing around," said Williams. "Even my mom had trouble getting to be because she wasn't a strong swimmer."

From the that time until he was 11, Williams focused on recreational swimming until be became a competitive swimmer.

Since West Side Academy does not have a swim team, Williams has been a member of Mumford High School's team and the Detroit Recreation Swim Team. Some of his greatest accomplishments are when he won the summer 2017 State Championships B final in the 200 meter breaststroke. The race was one of his fastest recorded times for that distance. He had the sixth fastest time in the meet; however, since he was in the B final, the lowest place he could earn was ninth. 

Another accomplishment for Williams was when he competed in the 100 meter backstroke at the Division 3 state meet, despite developing a viral infection. In that meet, he matched his personal record of 54.87 seconds, which earned him 16th place overall. 

When asked how many races he has won in his lifetime, Williams smiled and humbly said that he doesn’t count them. He uses each win to focus on his next goal.

Although Williams does not have a swimming idol, he has looked up to many competitors who have beaten him over the course of his swimming career.

“It is impressive to see athletes compete so well, and I try to analyze their races to see how to beat them,” said Williams.

His advice to those wondering if swimming is right for them is short and sweet.

“Try to start early in life, but even if you are older, you don’t have to go straight into competing," Williams said. "Swimming helps you stay in shape. It’s not a lot of weight on your joints, and you’re moving all of your muscles at once. It is a great lifetime sport for anyone interested in staying fit,”