Oklahoma high school swimming: British background, passion for swimming ingrained in Norman North's Bria Boreham
NORMAN — Bria Boreham never sounded like her peers when she was growing up in Norman.
With a thick British accent, she definitely stood out.
But make no mistake. Boreham has always been comfortable in Oklahoma.
And for the fourth straight year, the Norman North senior is one of the best high school swimmers in the state.
When the Class 6A regional begins in Edmond on Saturday, Boreham will be among the main draws. She placed second at the 2020 state meet in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200 individual medley and is even better this year.
The coronavirus pandemic has made this season different for Boreham. There have been fewer meets, and her team’s practice schedule is erratic.
But Boreham’s senior season is going as well as she could’ve imagined.
She won a pair of events last month at the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference meet. She will try to carry that momentum into regionals before heading to Jenks later this month for the state meet.
“Kind of flying by the seat of our pants,” Boreham said. “We fill in practices wherever we have to. Definitely a bit more chaotic, but it’s been going well. We’ve been training really hard. I think it’s going to be one of our best seasons.”
Boreham has a fascinating background.
She was born in Oklahoma, but her parents are from London.
The family moved back to England when Boreham was a toddler. When she was about 7, they returned to Oklahoma after her father, Gary, accepted a soccer coaching and directing job.
Gary coaches for Edmond Soccer Club and Deer Creek High School. A former semi-professional player, he introduced his daughter to soccer when she was young.
She wasn’t a fan.
The pool was always more intriguing.
“With my dad as a soccer coach, I tried soccer a lot when I was younger, and I tried different sports,” Boreham said. “A bunch of different sports in England. Never really found anything that I wanted to keep doing.
“But I always liked being in the water. I had family, friends who swam in England and would take me to the pool a lot. And then when I was 10, I realized that they had a club here that my friend had just joined. So, I went and tried out for that club, and I’ve been consistently there ever since.”
Boreham has developed a passion for the sport, and she plans to compete in college. She signed with Division I North Florida on Wednesday.
She placed sixth at the state meet in the 200 individual medley during her freshman season. As a sophomore, she was selected to The Oklahoman’s All-City first team after placing third at state in the 200 individual medley and finishing tied for third in the 100 breaststroke.
Boreham battled a shoulder injury as a junior but still managed to earn a spot on the All-City first team after another great season.
“She never stopped swimming,” said Kent Nicholson, her high school coach. “Never stopped training. Straight through everything. Just modified what we were doing. Kept her head in the game and has come through, and she’s in really good shape right now.”
Boreham is looking forward to joining North Florida, which is in Jacksonville.
Her aunt, uncle and cousins moved from London to the Sunshine State a few years ago. That played a big role in her decision to sign with a Florida school.
“I started to look at Florida knowing that I kind of would like to be close to family,” she said. “And I found North Florida, looked into some of the swimmers there, talked to a few of the swimmers and the coach. They just seemed really nice.
“When I went to visit my family this past Christmas in Florida, I ended up visiting the campus. I absolutely fell in love with it.”
Boreham will compete at the next level, but she’s still focused on finishing strong at Norman North. She’s enjoying her final high school meets and practices.
“She’s been mostly injury free throughout this season,” Nicholson said. “We’ve been able to keep training and working hard through this COVID thing. She’s swimming really well. She’s really strong. She’s in as good of shape as she’s ever been.”