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‘A very special moment’: Jack Kelly ’25 earns First Team All-American Honors at NCAA Championships

Kelly is first Bears swimmer since 1944 to accomplish feat

<p>Kelly finished eighth in the 200 Breaststroke and 18th in the 100 Breaststroke. </p><p>Courtesy of Justin Casterline via Brown Athletics</p>

Kelly finished eighth in the 200 Breaststroke and 18th in the 100 Breaststroke.

Courtesy of Justin Casterline via Brown Athletics

For the first time in 80 years, a Brown swimmer has earned First Team All-American honors, a distinction reserved for the top eight finishers in each event at the NCAA championships. 

On March 30, Jack Kelly ’25 was named a CSCAA All-American after finishing eighth in the 200-yard Breaststroke at the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Championships.

Kelly is the first Brown swimmer to make the Championship Final since Carl Paulson ’46 finished first in the 200 Breaststroke in 1944. Kelly is also the first since Thomas Glenn ’14 — who received an honorable mention in 2012 — to achieve an All-American honor.

“It means so much to me to bring Brown back onto swimming’s big stage,” Kelly wrote in an email to The Herald. “I was so thankful to be a part of the finals, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates who push me in the pool and the weight room everyday.”

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“It's hard to even put into words how significant it is to compete in the Championship Final and earn First-Team All-American,” Coach Kevin Norman wrote. “Seeing the Brown ‘B’ flashing on the entrance tunnel as Jack walked out for his Championship Final was something I will always cherish, and (it was) a very special moment for Brown Men’s Swimming & Diving.”

Originally from Yonkers, N.Y., Kelly was the 11th seed going into the 200 Breaststroke, but the coaches felt that his strong preparation put him in a good position to exceed that placement.

“We felt he had been prepping well for that race and had a good chance of scoring in the top 16,” Norman wrote, adding that this alone “would have been amazing, but sneaking into that Championship Final at night was unbelievable.”

Their confidence and Kelly’s hard work paid off. He finished in 1:51.65 in the Preliminaries, edging out Virginia Tech’s AJ Pouch by .04 seconds to make it to the A Final, where he swam 1:53.27.

Kelly also nearly earned Second Team All-American honors in the 100-yard Breaststroke race, finishing in 18th place.

Attributing his success to the consistent work he and the team have put in this season, Kelly wrote that he “found the best way to prepare was to trust the training my team and I had done throughout the year.” He added, “At this point in the season, all the hard training was completed, and it was now time to have fun and race.”

Norman praised Kelly’s attitude along with his “relentless drive and work ethic.” Kelly “sets goals for himself with the understanding of how hard he will have to work to accomplish them, and he's not afraid to fail,” Norman wrote to The Herald. “He just keeps getting better.” 

Looking forward to next season, Kelly, who is currently a junior, said his goals are centered around Bruno’s success as a team. “I hope to help push my teammates so that Brown can send multiple swimmers to the NCAAs and to place in the top three” at the Ivy League Championships, he wrote. “I could talk about breaking times, but what really matters is winning with your team.”

Coach Norman echoed Kelly’s emphasis on team success. Norman wrote that the team fell short of their goal of finishing in the top three at Ivy League Championships. “Based on results from last year, we have identified some changes we are going to make in our training from an individual approach and also as a team.”

“We also learned a lot being at NCAAs and (used) that as an opportunity to observe how the best teams in the country operate on the deck, communicate and prepare to race,” Norman added.

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For now, though, Kelly and the team will celebrate his historic achievement. “Seeing my name as one of the top eight finishers was just so surreal,” Kelly wrote. “I was able to share this moment with both my coaches — Coach Matt and Coach Kevin — as we jumped up and down with excitement. It was such a joyful moment.”

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Gus Bailey

Gus Bailey is a Sports reporter who also writes Arts & Culture reviews. He loves sports, music, and watching TV shows. When he's not at The Herald, you can find him playing pickup basketball, working on his podcast, or (most of the time) hanging with his friends.



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