AURORA — Mesabi East senior swimmer Grace Brunfelt had a successful year in the pool, qualifying in both the 200 and 500 yard freestyle events.

She also had a successful year in the classroom as she recently earned the All-American Academic Award by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association of America.

Senior swimmers with a cumulative grade point average over 3.75 are eligible to be selected for the award. Brunfelt’s GPA is over a 4.00 with weighted grading according to her coach, Jon Isaacson.

With all those factors combined, Isaacson says Brunfelt is certainly deserving of the award.

“She’s a very good swimmer but also an excellent student,” Isaacson said recently in a telephone interview. She was a great leader on the team this year, a great captain for us.”

What exactly makes Brunfelt a strong leader in the pool?

“She understood a lot better than the other kids what we were trying to do and what we had to do. She worked really hard this year and she upped her level in every way.

“She was working hard. She had always been a hard worker but she was really outstanding this year and she always brought others up along with her.”

Of all the captains on this year’s Mesabi East girls’ swim team, Brunfelt was the one always got the team moving, according to Isaacson.

“I’ve always thought that it was a good thing if you had at least one captain that was willing to tell people when they need to get going and step it up and Grace would do that. The other captains were great too and they were supportive and kept them laughing, but Grace kept them on task.”

As for Brunfelt’s chosen events, Isaacson says she’s built right for the longer distances — both mentally and physically.

“It’s probably something genetic. Her brother Ben was a good distance swimmer too. You have to kind of embrace those races because you’re in pain for a long time. You have to push yourself hard enough to feel it and keep going. It takes a lot of willpower and perseverance. She’s part Finn too, so ‘sisu’ (the Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness).”

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