There is a rule in Brendan Burns’ house that has stood for six years.

No board games in the Berwyn home.

The family is so competitive that arguments used to break out, largely because of Burns’ win-at-all-costs mentality. Burns, one of Pennsylvania’s top high school swimmers, used to get all over anyone’s case after a questionable move.

“I am the most competitive person in my family for sure,” Burns said.

When it comes to supporting each other, Burns is usually on the receiving end as his mother’s voice is often the last thing he hears just before he jumps into the pool.

“She does this cheer, ‘Let’s go B!’ really loud," Burns said, "and that’s usually the one thing I hear.”

Burns carries that competitive fire into the pool. The Conestoga senior was named the top boys’ swimmer at last month’s PIAA Class 3A swimming and diving championships. He won state titles in the 100-yard backstroke in 46.95 seconds and the 100 butterfly in 46.79.

Burns credits the competitiveness of his family to the success in his swimming career. He also said there are two types of swimmers: those who live to practice and those who live to race.

“Someone who lives to race is someone who is ultra competitive and can turn off their brain and shut out every ounce of doubt inside of you,” Burns said. “You see the people next to you, and you’re just locked in on beating them, and that’s the kind of swimmer I am."

Burns was selected as the outstanding boys' swimmer at last month's state meet.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Burns was selected as the outstanding boys' swimmer at last month's state meet.

Burns’ mentality has yielded three state championships in a row in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly. He is the only boy to win two individual events three years in a row at states and the first swimmer in the state to finish the butterfly in fewer than 47 seconds. He also holds every Conestoga swimming record except the 100 breaststroke and has won seven District 1 titles.

Burns grew up in a swimming family. His father swam in college for Southern Connecticut State University, and his mother swam for Miami (Ohio). His parents met at a swimming league after college, and Burns’ sister, Delaney, is a freshman swimmer at Conestoga.

Burns said choosing a college was the most difficult part of his career, harder than any race, The senior had more than 30 Division I college offers and wound picking Indiana University.

Indiana was the first school to reach out to Burns, in September 2017, and he knew it was the place for him after he visited the campus in April 2018.

Burns doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, but his goal is to represent the United States in the Olympics at some point in his career. He is already set to compete in the Olympic trials in June 2020.

"Realistically, my goal is just to swim as well as I can. I can’t really let the things I can’t control affect me,” Burns said. “I just focus on myself, and that’s kind of my outlook on life.”