Varied background helps East’s Brandon Shinsato become a swim leader
East swim coach Joe Hutchinson has witnessed senior Brandon Shinsato in various settings during his time in high school.
Shinsato has been the kid in Hutchinson’s physics class, unafraid to ask questions or participate in a discussion. He was involved in East’s music program, singing with the madrigals group in concerts and performances around Wichita.
Shinsato has also embraced the concept of community service, volunteering in Special Olympics events and spearheading a fundraiser for the Wichita Swim Club that generated more than $20,000 this fall.
As one of the top returning swimmers from East’s Class 6A championship team, Shinsato was a logical choice as a leader for this year’s squad. His character traits, Hutchinson said, reaffirm it.
“What he brings to the table that might be different from others is that he really seems to stretch out to everybody,” Hutchinson said. “He’s got a very welcoming personality. When he cheers people on, he really does it with great gusto.”
Shinsato and senior Nate Pirner, who made up half of East’s state champion 200-yard medley relay team last season, were chosen as co-captains for the Blue Aces. Along with classmates Andrew Sousa and Brandon Vandeventer, they form a strong group of veteran swimmers hoping to lead East to its second consecutive state title after the Aces ended a 46-year drought last February.
“We have so many guys just pushing to make state or be a part of this team,” Shinsato said. “People are trying to step up and take the place of the good swimmers we lost. We lost some pretty big parts, but I feel we’re gaining those back at the same time.”
Shinsato swam the backstroke on East’s medley relay, and also finished second to Blue Valley’s Chris Hearl in last season’s 6A 100-yard backstroke final. With Hearl moving on to swim at TCU, Shinsato enters his final high school season as a favorite to win the event.
“Chris was ridiculously fast, and anyone in that heat could have won that,” said Shinsato, who posted a time of 52.00 seconds. “I was happy that I did so well, but I know I can push myself to do even better.”
For some, the pursuit could become an obsession. Shinsato tries to keep it in the framework of a well-rounded lifestyle. He is enrolled in East’s International Baccalaureate program, which includes a leadership component that steered him toward a prominent role in the Wichita Swim Club’s Swim-a-Thon.
Shinsato, who swims for the club, promoted the event among his peers, organized online donations, and arranged for prizes for top fundraisers.
Shinsato is also weighing the possibilities for college swimming. Schools he is considering include Emery University, Johns Hopkins and the University of Puget Sound.
“The swimming is big right now, but I’ve been really trying to focus on my academics and trying to find balance,” Shinsato said. “Swimming is one of my passions and I want to do it in college.”
Hutchinson is trying to help Shinsato achieve balance in his final season at East. While he’d like Shinsato to win an individual event at state, he’d also like to give his senior a chance to branch out and swim different events during the season.
“Brandon sees the big picture as well as the little picture,” Hutchinson said. “He knows his swimming career in Wichita is winding down.
“He’s got one more high school season and one more club season, and his opportunity to leave his footprint is limited. I think he realizes that.”
CITY LEAGUE SWIMMERS TO WATCH
Carroll – Will Smith, sr., 5-1A champion in 100 breaststroke; Jacob Khoury, jr.; Jace Hilger, jr.
East – Nate Pirner, sr., 6A champion in 100 breaststroke; Brandon Shinsato, sr.; Andrew Sousa, sr.; Brandon Vandeventer, sr.
Heights – Coltan Hall, sr.; Aryan Lewallen, sr.; Bryce Blattner, jr.; Dillon Cullinan, jr.; Dawson Gantenbein, so.
Kapaun – Matthew Samsel, sr.; Paul Vanderpool, sr.; Graham Oldfather, sr.; Ryan Rathert, jr.
North – Henry Elliott, sr.; Riley Roach, jr.
Northwest – Gonzalo Neira, sr.; Alex Smith, jr.; Chad Butler, jr.; Nic Parker, so.
South – Ben Cress, sr.; Greg Peters, sr.
Southeast – Panya Amphone, sr.; Kent Dang, sr.; Tommy Wong, jr.; Casey Newsted, jr.
West – Devin Daignault, sr.; John McCullough, so.; Dominick Jones, so.; Bailey Chavez, so.
BOYS SWIMMING SCHEDULE
5—Campus at Salina South Invitational; Collegiate, Derby, Independent at Emporia Invitational. 7—Northwest, Maize South, McPherson, Newton, Rose Hill, Trinity, Winfield at Maize Invitational (Northwest YMCA). 10—Collegiate, Hutchinson, Independent, McPherson at Great Bend Invitational. 12–Carroll, Heights at East. 13—North, Southeast, West at South Invitational; Campus, Collegiate, Independent at South Invitational; Derby, Newton, Rose Hill, Winfield, Trinity at El Dorado Invitational. 16—South, Collegiate, El Dorado, Independent, Maize, Maize South, Winfield at Campus Invitational. 17—Rose Hill at Hutchinson Invitational. 19—Kapaun, North, Northwest, Derby, Hutchinson, Trinity at Heights Invitational. 21—East at BV North Invitational.
9—Heights at Salina South Invitational; Kapaun, Northwest at North; South, West at Southeast. Derby, Hutchinson, Maize, Maize South, McPherson, Rose Hill at Newton Invitational. 11–Carroll, Kapaun, North, Northwest, South, Southeast, Collegiate, Independent, Maize South, McPherson, Rose Hill, Trinity at El Dorado Invitational; Maize at East Relay Invitational; 16–Carroll, Southeast at Northwest; East,West at North; Heights, Kapaun, South at Wichita Swim Club; Campus, Newton, Trinity at Emporia Invitational; McPherson at Salina South Invitational. 18—Campus, Collegiate, Derby, El Dorado, Independent, Maize, Maize South, Rose Hill, Trinity at Winfield Invitational. 21—Campus, El Dorado, Newton, Winfield at Derby Invitational. 23–Carroll, Kapaun, West at Wichita Swim Club; East, South at Northwest; North, Southeast at Heights. 25–Carroll at BV Southwest Invitational; East, Kapaun, North, Northwest, South, Southeast, West, Collegiate, El Dorado, Hutchinson, Independent, Maize, Maize South, Newton, Rose Hill, Trinity, Winfield at Heights Invitational. 30–Carroll, North at South; East, Kapaun, Southeast at Wichita Swim Club; Heights, West at Northwest.
1–Carroll, Heights, Kapaun, North, Northwest, South, Southeast, West at Northwest Invitational; BV North, BV Northwest at East; Kapaun at Emporia Invitational. Campus, El Dorado, Winfield at Emporia Invitational. Collegiate, Derby, Independent, Maize, Maize South, Newton, Rose Hill, Trinity at Northwest Invitational. 5—El Dorado, Hutchinson, Newton, Rose Hill at Salina South Invitational. 8—Collegiate, Independent, Maize, Maize South, Trinity at Manhattan Invitational. 13–City League meet at South. 15—AVCTL I meet at Northwest YMCA; AVCTL II-IV meet at El Dorado. 21-22–State swimming at Topeka.